Takeaways from Ball State's 71-70 victory over Western Michigan

<p>Sophomore forward Jaylin Sellers pulls up from the free throw line in a game against Western Michigan on Jan. 17 at Worthen Arena. Sellers was 4 for 7 from field goal range. Brayden Goins, DN</p>

Sophomore forward Jaylin Sellers pulls up from the free throw line in a game against Western Michigan on Jan. 17 at Worthen Arena. Sellers was 4 for 7 from field goal range. Brayden Goins, DN

On Tuesday night, Ball State welcomed Western Michigan to Worthen Arena for the next game of the Mid-American Conference (MAC) season. 

After a game that had little emotion until late, the Cardinals were able to use a last-second second-half stop to defeat the Broncos 71-70.

Even though the Cardinals were able to defend their home turf, there were multiple things that they might address for their next game. Here are three takeaways from the contest.

Inconsistent shooting numbers

Ball State started off on fire from the field, hitting their first seven shots, including two 3-pointers. Multiple Cardinals were able to drive in against the Broncos and find the promised land.

This helped the team take an eight-point lead in the first few minutes of the match. But then, the Cardinals could not seem to get a shot to go, they would miss their next six attempts from deep.

But it was also the Cardinals' inside game as well. Layups and short jumpers all rattled off the rim and helped give the visiting Broncos momentum. 

The Cardinals would finish the first half going 13-of-26 (50 percent) and 3-of-9 (33.3 percent) from three-point range. 

They finished 27-of-59 (45.8 percent) and went 4-of-15 (26.7 percent) from deep. 

Defensive issues

Ball State had multiple issues in the first half. One of the biggest stains on the night was their defense. The Broncos were able to battle the Cardinals in the paint and finish with easy layups. 

The main factor that hurt the Cardinals' defense was fouls. Whether it was a charge or just a foul under the basket, Ball State could not escape the whistles. 

Sophomore center Payton Sparks and sophomore forward Basheer Jihad were affected the most by the calls. Sparks had three and Jihad had four with 12:50 left in the game. Sparks would end up fouling out with 4:21 remaining.

Another issue for the Ball State defense was senior guard Lamar Norman Jr. for Western Michigan, who led the Broncos with 31 points. Just when the Worthen crowd thought he was bottled up, he would find a way out and knock down a shot. 

He finished the game on 9-of-20 shooting and went 6-of-9 from the 3-point line. 

In the end, the Cardinal fans went home happy as their squad’s defense was able to stop the Broncos on a last-second shot attempt. 

Coach Lewis’s frustrations 

If Ball State head coach Michael Lewis still has a voice after the game, some Cardinal fans might be shocked. The play he witnessed on the court sparked the first-year head coach to be vocal throughout the night.

In the first half, he was very upset with multiple of his players after they seemingly did not set up correctly. He was not afraid to bench a player if he saw it necessary. 

While he was not happy with some of his players, he was also not too fond of some calls made by the officials. Multiple times he would watch the jumbotron after a foul on one of his Cardinals and react to the officiating crew immediately. More often than not, he finished that by shaking his head and walking in the other direction. 

But that energy became positive in the second half. With 6:20 left in the game, Ball State hit a basket to force a Bronco timeout. Lewis screamed with excitement and gave two “Tiger Woods” style fist pumps as he went into the huddle. 

Luckily, that positive energy carried him throughout the final seconds as he screamed with excitement and waved to the fans.

Contact Zach Carter with comments at zachary.carter@bsu.edu or on Twitter @ZachCarter85.


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