No. 6 seed Ball State Men’s Basketball (14-17, 9-11 MAC), played their final game of the 2022 season March 10, falling to No. 3 seeded Ohio University (25-8, 15-6 MAC) in the quarterfinals of the Mid-American Conference (MAC) tournament. Here are three takeaways from the loss.
The first-round hump
Despite making an appearance in the last seven MAC tournaments under head coach James Whiteford (the 2020 tournament was canceled), and being one of the most consistent teams in the conference, the Cardinals have consistently been unable to escape the first round of the competition. Only advancing to the semifinals twice in the nine years under Whitford, and not in their last five attempts.
Ball State started the game strong, leading by five early on and fending off Bobcats' attempts to close the gap.
Ohio took the lead around the four-minute mark and lead closely until the halftime buzzer. The second half was all Bobcats, as sophomore guard Mark Sears opened the floodgates for Ohio.
It never seemed like the game was terribly out of reach for the Cardinals, just as if they couldn’t get a foothold in. When they were able to get within a few points, the Bobcats had a scoring run and whippet off any momentum.
A future in Muncie
With the 2022 season coming to an end, only two Ball State players will be ending their careers in Muncie with redshirt junior forward Miryne Thomas and redshirt junior Blake Huggins graduating from the program.
Off the back of star freshman player of the year center Payton Sparks and young transfers like junior guard Demarious Jacobs, sophomore guard Tyler Cochran and forward Mickey Pearsons, there is more to come from this Cardinal lineup. Not to mention, sophomore guard Luke Bumbalough who averages 10 points a game.
Whitford’s youth-focused recruiting style can be something that pays off in the next few years.