4 takeaways from Ball State's 80-63 loss to Minnesota

Freshman guard Trent Middleton Jr. takes a shot while under pressure Dec. 16 against Indiana State at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. Middleton made 3 field goals. Andrew Berger, DN
Freshman guard Trent Middleton Jr. takes a shot while under pressure Dec. 16 against Indiana State at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. Middleton made 3 field goals. Andrew Berger, DN

On Thursday evening, the Cardinals ended their non-conference schedule with a trip to Minneapolis as Ball State faced Minnesota. 

After 40 minutes of basketball, the Cardinals fell 80-63 in their final game of 2023. Here are four takeaways from the loss.

Minnesota’s early scoring run was the difference 

After the opening tip-off, it was all Minnesota (9-3). The Gophers had no issue finding the basket, which was the opposite of the Cardinals (8-4). At the 15:55 minute mark, Ball State head coach Michael Lewis called his second timeout of the half after going down 18-9. 

During that stretch, Minnesota went 5-for-7 (71.4 percent). The Gophers also hit their first three-pointers of the contest. For the Cardinals, they went 1-for-5 (20 percent) and missed two three-pointers. 

The rest of the half looked similar as the Gophers continued to find the bottom of the hoop. While they were able to find success, the Cardinals could not find any momentum and trailed 39-27 at halftime. 

Mistakes hurt Ball State

One big issue for the Cardinals was their ability to hold on to the basketball, in which they lost the ball 14 times in the first half. Bad passes and Minnesota steals plagued the red and black. 

This issue allowed the Gophers to add 19 points to their lead. Minnesota had six turnovers, which the Cardinals used to score five points.  

It wasn’t just turnovers, however. The Cardinals could not find ways to share the basketball and finished the game with 11 assists. On the other hand, Minnesota had success in this category as they finished the contest with 22 assists.  

Juniors Jalin Anderson and Basheer Jihad shined

While the Cardinals struggled to get within five points of the Gophers’ lead, they were never out of the game. This was mainly due to the performances by Anderson and Jihad. Throughout the contest, Anderson found ways to add points to the scoreboard. 

Whether it was a three-pointer or a hard layup, Ball State’s starting guard could do no wrong. He finished the loss with 26 points on 11-for-18 (61.1 percent) shooting. He also went 3-for-6 (50 percent) from deep and led the Cardinals with seven assists. 

Yet it wasn’t just Anderson that contributed. Jihad followed with 14 points on 5-for-10 (50 percent) shooting. He also led with seven rebounds. 

Multiple bench players received big minutes

Since Ball State was down two starters – Junior Mickey Pearson and redshirt junior Ben Hendriks due to illness – there were a lot of Cardinals that received increased minutes. During the first half, freshmen Zane Doughty and Jurica Zagorsak took the floor and found some success. 

Zagorsak played for eight minutes and scored four points. Doughty played for 12 minutes and recorded two points. He also led the Cardinals in the opening half with four rebounds. 

During the second half, the two continued to get more playing time. Zagorsak finished the game with seven points and Doughty had five. He also grabbed five rebounds. 

Ball State will return to the court in 2024 when the Cardinals open Mid-American Conference play at Kent State (7-3) on Tuesday, Jan 2. The game is set to start at 7 p.m. 

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


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