On Tuesday evening, Ball State welcomed Akron to Worthen Arena for the Cardinals' third Mid-American Conference (MAC) game of the season. Once the clock hit zero, the Cardinals left the court after falling in their second home loss of the season as Akron took the 80-76 win.
Here are three takeaways from the game.
Ball State matched Akron’s offensive success in the first half
The opening minutes, both competitors struggled to find the bottom of the basket. However, the Zips (11-4, 3-0 MAC) struck first with a jump shot. Then Ball State tied the game. This went on for most of the first half.
Yet seven minutes into the game, the Cardinals (8-7, 0-3 MAC) took their first lead of the night and quickly went up 15-11, their biggest lead of the half. Part of the success was Ball State’s ability to knock down the three-point shot. They started 3-for-5 (60 percent) from deep and ended the half 6-for-14 (42.8 percent).
Near halftime, the Zips found a rhythm that helped give them the lead. However, the Cardinals found ways to work around that and ended the first half with a 35-33 lead.
In the opening half, junior Basheer Jihad led the Cardinals with 10 points and grabbed five rebounds.
Ball State had issues with fouls and turnovers
While the Cardinals had some success in the first half, there were some errors. The first issue was that they had eight turnovers. During the first two minutes, Ball State struggled to move in the paint and gave up the ball multiple times.
Even though they improved, the mistakes continued as the Cardinals were called for seven first-half fouls. During the remainder of the game, the turnover issue started to evaporate as the red and white finished the game with 13 turnovers.
However, the fouls were still a problem as the Cardinals finished the game with 17. While the Zips only turned the ball over five times, they were called for 21 fouls. That helped Ball State make multiple trips to the free throw line, where they went 18-for-23 (78.2 percent).
Yet more errors returned near the end of the game. Two crucial turnovers and multiple poor offensive possessions aided the Zips as they held on for the victory.
Four Cardinals scored in the double digits
One positive Ball State showed in the game was their ability to get multiple starters in a position to succeed. Due to that, multiple Cardinals scored in the double digits. Jihad led Ball State with 27 points – tying his career high – and 16 rebounds – a career-high – giving him his sixth double-double of the season.
Behind him was junior Jalin Anderson, who ended with 21 points and five assists. Junior Mickey Pearson followed with 12 points and junior Davion Bailey added 11 points.
The Cardinals will be back on Saturday, Jan. 13 when they visit Toledo (9-6, 3-0 MAC). The game is set to start at 7 p.m.
Contact Zach Carter with comments at email@example.com or on X@ZachCarter85.