Bench pushes Ball State Men To Win

Cardinals Win Over Miami of Ohio

story by: Ball State staff

photos by: Kim Masters-Nguyen


Four Ball State starters scored in double figures and the bench chipped in with 19 points as the Cardinals men’s basketball team picked up a 71-62 victory over Miami (Ohio) Saturday afternoon in Worthen Arena.

Photo by: Kim Masters-Nguyen/Excel Sports Publications

The win moved Ball State (11-7 overall) to 4-1 in Mid-American Conference play for the first time since 2012. It also marked the 100th career win for head coach James Whitford who joined Jim Hinga and Ray McCallum as the only BSU men’s basketball coaches to reach that mark.

Senior Tahjai Teague led a balanced Ball State attack with 14 points. Freshman Luke Bumbalough and junior Ishmael El-Amin each tallied 13 points, while senior Kyle Mallers added 10.


Photo by: Kim Masters-Nguyen/Excel Sports Publications

The Cardinals only utilized three bench players, but the trio of senior Josh Thompson (7), junior Brachen Hazen (7) and freshman Kani Acree (5) combined for 19 points on 50 percent (7-of-14) shooting from the floor. Hazen led the squad with six rebounds. BSU became just the second team all season to outscore Miami in bench points (19-16).

Photo by: Kim Masters-Nguyen/Excel Sports Publications

But it was on the other end of the floor where that group really changed the flow of the game after Miami got off to a red-hot start.

“I thought the bench made a big difference,” Whitford said. “I thought the defensive intensity that our bench brought became contagious. It lifted everybody. If you are going to be a good team, you have to find lots of different ways to win. This was a good win for us.”

Miami (8-10, 1-4 MAC) kept the home crowd quiet early as the RedHawks hit five of their first six 3-point attempts and built an 11-point lead midway through the first half at 21-10. The Cardinals got right back in the game thanks to three long-range shots from Bumbalough in less than two minutes. Ball State eventually took a 33-30 lead into intermission following a Hazen 3-pointer that banked in from the top of the arc as the first-half buzzer sounded.

Photo by: Kim Masters-Nguyen/Excel Sports Publications

A 10-0 Ball State run eight minutes into the second half gave the Cardinals the lead for good. Mallers and Thompson each hit a 3-pointer in that stretch, and Teague capped the spurt with two free throws with 11:58 remaining to make the score 45-38.

Miami never got closer than three points the rest of the way. Ball State’s defense held the RedHawks scoreless the final 2:34. Teague put the game away with a thunderous dunk with 35.7 seconds left to give the Cardinals a three-possession cushion at 70-62.

The RedHawks kept the game close by having their best 3-point shooting game of the season at 57.9 percent (11-of-19) against a BSU squad that entered the game allowing just 32.1 percent from deep. Miami’s Nike Sibande recorded his fourth double-double of the season as he registered game highs in points (16) and rebounds (10).

Photo by: Kim Masters-Nguyen/Excel Sports Publications

Ball State also made 11 trifectas, its highest mark against a league opponent this year. Bumbalough led all players by making four 3-pointers.

The Cardinals now have a week off to prepare for their next game, a road trip to Central Michigan on Saturday, Jan. 25. Game time on ESPN3 is set for 4:30 p.m. With the Chippewas’ loss Saturday to Buffalo, BSU now has a one-game lead in the early going of the MAC West Division race.


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