In three consecutive games, the Cardinals have had a player score a career-high in points.
In Ball State Men’s Basketball’s (10-11, 8-8 MAC) 100-65 win over Eastern Michigan (5-12, 2-11 MAC), redshirt fifth-year guard K.J. Walton scored a career-best 32 points, and redshirt junior forward Miryne Thomas scored tied a career-high 20 points on a perfect 5-for-5 from the field.
Not only have players reached personal milestones, but the Cardinals have also scored over 90 points in the last two games.
“I feel like we are playing the best basketball we have played,” Walton said. “With Covid and everything else, it has been a weird year. It has been up and down. We knew once we got everyone together, the practices and everyone we need, we’d be fine.”
It was senior night for the Cardinals, and they honored their three seniors, guard Ishmael El-Amin, forward Brachen Hazen and Walton. Both Walton and El-Amin reflected on what could be their final seasons.
“There was definitely a weird feel to everything,” El-Amin said. “Guys have different roles. Guys have played a lot more minutes. Me and K.J. [Walton] had to do a lot more things than we do now. I knew once things got full and complete, things would start working out.”
Ball State figured it out and had full control from the start. They went into the first half with a 50-22 lead over the Eagles. The Cardinals shot 52 percent for the game while allowing Eastern Michigan to just 36 percent shooting.
“We are sharing the ball and playing unselfish,” Whitford said. “The guys figured out that we need to get the ball inside against a zone, and we did that. They were concerned about the way we shoot the ball, which opened things up for us inside.”
Thomas added five rebounds and two assists to his 20 points. While Whitford said he has been inconsistent this season, he is proud of the work he has put in and is glad it is starting to pay off.
“We need him to play well,” Whitford said. “He’s had an inconsistent year, but he quarantined for 38 days and had an ankle injury. This was a tricky game for him on both offense and defense, and I thought he did a really good job on both ends. He was focused tonight and had his best game defensively.”
Defensively, El-Amin believes Thomas’ two steals is a testament to who he can be on that side of the floor.
“When Miryne [Thomas] knocks down shots and is a workhorse on the rebounding end, it opens up a whole other avenue for us,” El-Amin said. “It makes us a lot more scarier on that end. Once he puts his mind to it, he can guard a guard too. It’s a scary sight.”
Like Thomas, the Cardinals as a whole have gone through adversity, such as players getting injured or having to quarantine due to COVID-19. With everyone healthy and playing together, Whitford is pleased with the direction they are heading.
“When we were going through all of the adversity within,” Whitford said. “This was the time of year we shot for. A couple of months ago was a real challenging time for our team. We had to navigate our way through that path. We targeted this time of year for us to be healthy and have enough time on the court together.”