3 takeaways from Ball State's 58-56 loss to Eastern Michigan

Junior guard Jalin Anderson sees a through pass against Eastern Michigan Feb. 24 at Worthen Arena. Anderson had two points in the first half. Andrew Berger, DN
Junior guard Jalin Anderson sees a through pass against Eastern Michigan Feb. 24 at Worthen Arena. Anderson had two points in the first half. Andrew Berger, DN

On Saturday afternoon, Ball State looked to create a two-game win streak as Eastern Michigan rolled into Worthen Arena. However, the Cardinals could not convert in the final minutes, falling to the Eagles 58-56.

Here are three takeaways from the game. 

Defensive first half

Until Ball State (13-14, 5-9 Mid-American Conference (MAC)) freshman Mason Jones sank a layup 17:23 mark, the contest in Muncie was a defensive battle. The opening tip was batted around multiple times before the Eagles (11-16, 4-10 MAC) took possession. 

During the first two minutes, both competitors missed shots and had multiple turnovers. The absence of scoring continued until Jones scored. Even after that, both defenses remained on top of their game.  At the 10:08 mark, the Eagles led 12-8. 

While the low scoring was due to good defense, it was also because of things like turnovers and limited assists. However, the scoring did increase in the final few minutes as the Cardinals led Eastern Michigan 27-26 at halftime. 

Ball State finished the half going 11-for-28 (39.3 percent) and 2-for-10 (20 percent) from deep. The Eagles went  11-for-27 (40.7 percent) and 1-for-8 (12.5 percent) from 3-point land. 

Ball State’s offense came alive in the second half

While their offense did not have the best showing in the opening half, the Cardinals came out of the locker room with some energy. With 3-pointers from junior Mickey Pearson, junior Davion Bailey, and other jump shots from junior Jalin Anderson, Ball State took a 38-32 lead at the 15:57 mark.  

With the newfound offensive rhythm, the Cardinals were able to improve other stat lines. During that time, they had no issues with rebounds and were able to spread the ball around to multiple Ball State shooters. 

Eastern Michigan also found success on offense. However, when the Eagles scored, the Cardinals answered on the next possession. 

Throughout the rest of the half, Ball State continued to find ways to get to the basket. But while the Cardinals continued to have success, the Eagles eventually caught up with the red and black as they only trailed 49-46 at the 7:44 mark. 

The Cardinals could not close out the game

One of Ball State’s biggest struggles this season has been the Cardinal’s ability to close out games. With five minutes remaining in the contest, the red and black only led the Eagles 51-50. 

A few minutes later, Eastern Michigan took a 54-53 lead with a jumper from sophomore Orlando Lovejoy. After that basket, the Eagles took a timeout. Coming out of the stoppage in play, Ball State’s offense went stagnant and did not score for three minutes. 

After Bailey had a jump shot attempt blocked, the Eagles responded with a 3-pointer, giving them a 57-53 lead with 24 seconds remaining in the game. That basket ended up being the dagger as the Cardinals left the court with the loss.

In Ball State’s last 15 shots, they only hit one with a layup at the 6:03 mark. 

Junior Basheer Jihad led the Cardinals with his ninth double-double – 18 points and 16 rebounds – and was followed by Pearson with 13 points and three rebounds. 

The Cardinals will try to find the win column when they travel to face Central Michigan (16-11, 10-4 MAC) on Tuesday, Feb. 27. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. 

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


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