Opening up play in the Charleston Classic, Ball State Men's Basketball (1-2, 0-0 MAC) took on No. 16 Virginia Tech (2-0, 0-0 ACC). Hokie scoring runs as high as 12-2 would continuously set the Cardinals back. An 8-0 scoring run to end the game, would be too little, too late as they would fall, 73-64.
"When they started to make runs, that was the point where I was disappointed because we let three point runs become 10 point run," head coach James Whitford said. "There were moments where we let the game get away from us, but I told my guys we competed, played hard and were going to have another great one coming up tomorrow." '
The theme of point runs was consistent from tip-off. The Hokies went on an 11-4 run before the Cardinals responded with a 8-0 run of their own. The first half would conclude with a 12-2 run from the Hokies to take a 42-29 advantage going into halftime.
Redshirt senior guard Tayler Persons led the team in points again in the first half with 12. The Hokies scored almost half of their points in the paint and shot 100 percent accuracy from the line.
The second half saw more of the same with the Cardinals going on a 10-0 run to pull within six. A 14-10 run just past the midway point of the half gave the Hokies a comfortable lead. An 8-0 by the Cardinals, seeing junior forward Kyle Mallers put up a career high 19 points, allowed Ball State to end the game cutting the deficit down to nine.
"It's a game of runs and a team of runs and we had too many moments where we got away from ourselves," Whitford said. "When we lost, we lost big. We'd hang in there and play well, a shot doesn't go in and things started going bad. Then we'd recoup, start playing well again and they'd go on a 9-2 run or something like that."
Persons led the team with 21 points going 5-5 on the line. Persons was on the bench in the early second half after taking a hard fall, but would return to the game. Whitford said Tayler should be ok. Mallers finished in second in scoring, going 5-12 outside the arc.
On the other side of the court, sophomore guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker lead the Hokies with 21 points and held a .600 field goal percentage. This is Alexander-Walker's second consecutive 21 point game.
With the loss, the Cardinals will face the winner of the Alabama/Northeastern match. The game is scheduled for Friday at 1:30 p.m.
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