Ball State loses to Northern Illinois, drops 3rd straight game

Buckets were hard to come by in Ball State Men’s Basketball’s (11-14, 6-8 MAC) 64-58 loss to Northern Illinois (7-16, 3-10 MAC), as Ball State went scoreless for seven straight minutes in the first half. Despite this, the Cardinals and Huskies went into the break tied at 27, with both teams shooting 9-for-25 from the field. 

Redshirt Junior Miryne Thomas said when those kind of situations come up, he wants to instill getting the ball in the paint and trying to get easy looks.

“As leader on the team, when we get into positions like that, me and coach try to get guys to just get the ball moving from side to side and try to get paint touches,” Thomas said.

The Cardinals made it an emphasis to push the ball in the paint, as they scored 32 points down low compared to the Huskies’ 22. On the flip side, Northern Illinois made seven 3-pointers compared to Ball State’s two, which ultimately made the difference. 

Northern Illinois’ Trendon Hankerson was a catalyst for the Huskies 3-point shooting, as he hit all four of their threes in the first half. He finished the game with 19 points.

“He's a good player,” Thomas said. “He was able to make shots tonight, and we weren't, so that was the difference of the game.”

Northern Illinois came out of the break and made a pair of 3-pointers and took a 38-33 lead early in the second half to force a Ball State timeout and Ball State continued to struggle getting the ball in the basket.

Usually we're hot in Worthen Arena,” Thomas said. “Tonight we got a winter snowstorm so we were just cold. We have to get back in the gym, get reps under our belt and get back to playing good.”

Ball State ended the game shooting 35 percent from the field and 13 percent from deep. Freshman center Payton Sparks led the Cardinals with 16 points followed by Thomas’ 11. 

Ball State is currently on a three game losing streak with five games left in the season. They travel to Bowling Green to take on the Falcons, Saturday, Feb. 19 at 5 p.m.

“I just said to the team in the locker room that adversity reveals character,” head coach James Whitford said. “Progress is never linear.”

Contact Ian Hansen with comments at or on Twitter @ianh_2.