Turnovers and foul trouble.
These were the two areas that hurt Ball State Men’s Basketball (6-6, 4-3 MAC) most in its 81-71 loss to Miami (Ohio) (5-4, 2-2 MAC).
The Cardinals committed 18 turnovers which marks the second game this season turnovers made a difference, as they gave away 20 in a 67-57 loss against Indiana State on Dec. 19.
“We have to handle it better,” head coach Whitford said. “That is twice that pressure has really bothered us this year. I thought in the first half we handled it well. The second half overwhelmed us. We turned it over a little in the first half, but we shot 50 percent from three. In the second half, we pressed too hard and need to get more ball movement.”
The Cardinals got off to a strong start and led 30-23 with 5:43 left in the first half. A run by Miami brought them within one point at the break. Both teams went back and forth at the beginning of the second half until the 12:10 mark when the Redhawks took a lead and never looked back.
Redshirt sophomore guard Jarron Coleman echoed Whitford and believes that the Redhawks’ pressure proved to be too much for them. Not only did Ball State turn the ball over 18 times, but Miami also scored 25 points off of turnovers.
“They applied a lot of pressure,” Coleman said. “They did do well converting defense to offense. I feel like [due to foul trouble], we couldn’t be as aggressive as we wanted. They played with a lot more energy than we did.”
Redshirt junior forward Miryne Thomas committed two fouls in the first five minutes of the final half, and the team as a whole sent Miami to the free-throw line 27 times in the second half. The Redhawks shot a total of 56 free throws.
“We did get into some foul trouble,” Coleman said. “We had to play a game we weren’t used to playing. At the end of the day, we have to play with what we have and adjust regardless of what lineups are out there. I feel like we got outplayed and outhustled.”
Despite senior guard Ishmael El-Amin and redshirt fifth-year guard K.J. Walton both scoring 17 points, Whitford thinks the defense was the area they lacked most.
“I thought were rough around the edges, especially in the second half,” Whitford said. “If we would have defended to our ability, I still think we could have won the game. I didn’t think we were good on either side of the ball. Their pressure and physicality bothered us."
Coleman played in just his second game of the season due to injury, and while he feels confident about the future of the season, he knows there is rust to play through.
“I am a little rusty,” Coleman said. “My shot is just broke, and I haven’t been playing my game. I am just going to stay with what I know and know my team has faith in me. I know I am going to make plays for my team. All I care about is winning regardless of how I play. I could play terrible, but as long as we win, I don’t care.”
Ball State travels to Ohio to play its fourth road game in the last five games Friday, Jan. 20 for a 7 p.m. tip-off.
Contact Ian Hansen with comments at email@example.com or on Twitter @ianh_2.