3 takeaways from Ball State's 76-69 win over Kent State

Junior center Ben Hendricks puts the ball up for two against Kent State Mar. 5 at Worthen Arena. Hendricks scored 11 points in the game. Kate Tilbury, DN
Junior center Ben Hendricks puts the ball up for two against Kent State Mar. 5 at Worthen Arena. Hendricks scored 11 points in the game. Kate Tilbury, DN

On Tuesday evening, Ball State looked to keep its Mid-American Conference (MAC) Tournament hopes alive as the Cardinals faced Kent State. The white and red did just that as they defeated the Flashes 76-69.

Here are three takeaways from the game.

Both Kent State and Ball State made mistakes in the first half

The contest in Worthen Arena began with two different styles of play. While the Cardinals  (15-15, 7-10 MAC) found some early success from the field, the Flashes (15-15, 8-9 MAC) struggled to find momentum. However, scoring issues were just the tip of the iceberg. 

By the 6:50 mark, Kent State had seven turnovers as they struggled to dribble the basketball. A few of those came when no Ball State defenders were around. It also didn’t help that Ball State outrebounded the Flashes 23 to 15 in the opening half. 

However, the Cardinals had mistakes of their own in the final few minutes of the first half. After leading 26-12 at the 9:07 mark, the white and red allowed the Flashes to cut into their lead. At the 2:15 mark, Ball State only led 32-30. This forced head coach Michael Lewis to call timeouts and make many substitutions. 

The Cardinals went into halftime leading 37-32. They finished the half 13-for-33 (39.4 percent) and 4-for-13 (30.8 percent) from 3-point range. The Flashes went half 12-for-31 (38.7 percent) and 5-for-14 (35.7 percent) from deep.

The white and red forced their way to the free-throw line

One of the biggest differences in the MAC matchup was who could make trips to the free-throw line. After 40 minutes of basketball, the Cardinals won the battle as they forced 21 Kent State fouls. 

This allowed Ball State to go 20-for-27 (74.1 percent) while the Flashes went 6-for-7 from the foul line. To get there, they went inside the paint and played aggressively. Junior Jalin Anderson led the way as he finished 8-for-9 in foul shots.

On the other hand, the Cardinals did not let foul trouble halt their momentum as they only committed 11 fouls. 

The Cardinals stepped up in junior Basheer Jihad’s absence

While Ball State’s leading scorer was unavailable due to a lower back injury, other Cardinals stepped up and helped them defeat the Flashes. Anderson led the Cardinals with 23 points and had three assists. He was followed by junior Davion Bailey, who finished with 20 points. 

Other performances included junior Ben Hendriks, who had 11 points – which tied his collegiate career-high – and freshman Mason Jones who led the team with 10 rebounds. 

Ball State will finish the regular season with a road game at Bowling Green (18-12, 9-8 MAC). 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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