Head coach James Whitford thought the Cardinals came out strong but couldn't keep it up for 40 minutes.
Ball State Men's Basketball (7-11, 5-8 MAC) could not produce a complete game in its 88-79 loss to Akron (14-4, 12-3 MAC).
At the half, the Cardinals held a six-point lead. However, the script flipped in the second half when the Zips outscored the Cardinals 58-43 in the second half. Whitford liked what he saw in that first half but thinks the issue concerns the complete game as a whole.
“I don’t know if it's a first-half second-half thing because we’ve had plenty of games where the first half has gone bad,” Whitford said. “I think it's a 40-minute thing for us. Being able to put together a consistent 40 minutes.”
Loren Cristian Jackson came into the night averaging a team-high 21.4 points per contest. Although he only scored 12 points on 2-for-12 shooting, he left his mark through playmaking. He finished with 11 assists, and Whitford thought his impact in the pick and roll game was exceptional.
“The separation we gave Loren Cristian Jackson on the pick and rolls was too much,” Whitford said. “We switched the matchups, and that was a disaster. We lost him quickly, we had guys in roles they really were not prepared for, and again, those kinds of things you should be able to handle better than we did, but we didn’t. Him getting 11 assists was the dagger.”
Sophomore guard Luke Bumbalough thinks the approach to defense is all on the mental side. If the Cardinals' mindset can match their effort, Bumbalough believes they can fix the defensive issues that plagued their second half by implementing the next play mentality.
“Defense is all about a mindset,” Bumbalough said. “Staying in the game, when the highs and lows, when there’s runs, just staying together and playing hard, not thinking about the last play, last turnover or last shot.”
“It is a mentality for sure. It requires a real toughness,” Whitford said. “It requires great fortitude because you get tired, you get fatigued, and a really tough team can continue to play at an elite level in those moments.”
Ball State returns to action Sunday, Feb. 21, with a home matchup against Western Michigan. The Cardinals won the first meeting 76-68 on Dec. 22. Tipoff is 7 p.m.