Ball State Beat Northern Illiniois

Cardinals Shake off Northern Illinois Rally to Earn 63-59 Victory

story by: Ball State Sports Staff

Ishmael El-Amin goes for 22 points, hits key 3-pointer late to preserve win


MUNCIE, Ind. — Ishmael El-Amin scored 22 points, two shy of his career best, to lift the Ball State men’s basketball team to a 63-59 victory over Northern Illinois Tuesday night in Worthen Arena.

Game Winning Shot by William Rex Crabtree/Excel Sports Publications

The Cardinals (14-10, 7-4 MAC) moved to 5-0 at home against league foes this year and also cooled down a red-hot Northern Illinois (15-10, 8-4 MAC) squad that leads the MAC West Division. The Huskies entered the matchup game riding a six-game winning streak in MAC games, their longest streak in program history.


With Ball State clinging to a one-point lead, 57-56, in the waning minutes, the two teams exchanged six straight possessions without either team able to put the ball through the hoop. El-Amin finally made the play of the game with 26.4 seconds left, and only three seconds showing on the shot clock, when he made an off-balance, desperation 3-pointer from the top of the key to put the Cardinals up, 60-56.


Jarron Coleman and El-Amin each made a pair of free throws in the final 20 seconds to keep Northern Illinois at bay.


“You could argue that this is the best game (El-Amin) has ever played at our place, and that’s saying a lot,” Ball State head coach James Whitford said. “Twenty-two points on 11 shots, three assists, one turnover, incredible composure, and by the way, he played 38 minutes and he defended Eugene German for 38 minutes.”


It appeared Ball State would cruise to a win over NIU as the Cardinals led by 15 points, 51-36, following El-Amin’s third trifecta of the evening with 10:19 remaining. However, Northern Illinois turned up the defensive pressure and kept Ball State from making another field goal until the final minute of regulation.


German, the MAC’s leading scorer at 20.1 points per game, rallied the Huskies with 11 points over the next seven minutes, including a pair of long-range 3-pointers, to bring Northern Illinois to within one point with 3:35 showing on the clock, 56-55. German had a chance to even the score at 57 on NIU’s ensuing possession but only made 1-of-2 free throws.

Photo by: William Rex Crabtree/Excel Sports Publications

Ball State never trailed in the game. The Cardinals scored the first nine points and held Northern Illinois without a point for the first 6:27. Ball State’s lead was as large as 11 in the first half and 29-22 at halftime.


A pair of Kyle Mallers 3-pointers, and another from Tahjai Teague, early in the second half quickly stretched Ball State’s cushion to 15 points at 39-24.

Photo by: William Rex Crabtree/Excel Sports Publications

Besides El-Amin’s 22 points, Teague and Mallers each chipped in with 12. Coleman and Brachen Hazen finished with nine rebounds apiece.

Photo by: William Rex Crabtree/Excel Sports Publications

German paced Northern Illinois with 18 points but was only 2-of-11 shooting from behind the arc.


The two teams entered the game as the top two scoring defenses in league play with Ball State allowing only 62.8 points per game and Northern Illinois right behind at 63.3.


Next up for Ball State is a home game against overall MAC leader Bowling Green. The Cardinals and Falcons will tip inside Worthen Arena on Saturday at 1 p.m.


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