Fort Wayne redshirt senior center Brent Calhoun couldn't miss.
"It seemed like even if he threw it up backwards, he would hit," freshman forward Tahjai Teague said. "It was just his night."
Calhoun scored a career-high 27 points in Ball State's 88-80 loss in the Lou Henson Classic, which eliminated the Cardinals from the CollegeInsider.com Tournament.
The Mastodons outscored the Cardinals 54-39 in the second half and Calhoun's hot play rubbed off on the rest of his team. Redshirt junior Bryson Scott scored all 13 of his points in the second half, and his three-pointer with 8:50 left to play gave Fort Wayne the lead for good.
Twenty of Calhoun's points came in the second half, in which he shot 82 percent (9-11) from the field.
Brent Calhoun final stats:
Field Goals: 12-16
* = career high
"He got hot just like the team and they went to him almost every play," Teague said.
Calhoun's and-one with 9:11 left to play sparked an 11-0 run that put a serious dagger into the Cardinals hopes.
"We had to play with more energy," Calhoun said. "We were kind of out of rhythm in the first half, so in the second half we had to make sure that we were firing on all cylinders as a team."
Ball State head coach James Whitford said Calhoun was able to get the ball right next to the rim, which led to easy shots. He described Calhoun as a "real estate guy."
"[Calhoun's] like that house that's on oceanfront property that's worth 5.5 million dollars, but that same house six blocks in is worth one-tenth of the price," Whitford said. "If you put him right [by the basket], he's worth a million bucks."
Whitford said not having sophomore center Trey Moses, who was out with a knee injury, hampered the Cardinals on both sides of the ball.
"[Trey] is an all-conference defensive player," Whitford said. "Not having him wore us out in the paint and defensively."
With Moses out, House played 31 minutes — tied the most minutes that he played in a non-overtime game this season.
"I thought that Franko may have run out of gas," Whitford said. "He played 31 minutes which is heavy for him and I felt that he was letting him catch the ball too deep."
With tonight's loss in the CIT, Ball State's season will come to an end. The Cardinals finished the year with a 21-13 record. Ball State's back-to-back 21-win seasons are tied for the seventh-most in program history.