At the 4:14 mark of the game, Ball State trailed 70-50. When the crowd was at its quietest, the Cardinals sparked some magic. Redshirt freshman guard Jarron Coleman scored 10 of his 17 points in those final four minutes of the game. Ball State cut its 20-point deficit to three, but the Falcons ultimately held the Cardinals off with free throws, defeating them 77-71.
Most teams may throw up the white flag down 20 points in the final minutes, but Coleman said he knows the team will keep fighting until the end.
“We are not going to stop playing until that final buzzer sounds,” Coleman said. “If we are up 20 or down 20, we always continue to keep playing regardless of the score.”
While head coach James Whitford said he is proud of the effort in those final minutes, he said he knows it was not enough and wishes the team had consistent energy the whole game.
“I thought we gave a good effort in those final minutes,” Whitford said. “I thought that was a good thing, and I thought the guys fought, but it wasn’t enough. We weren’t able to play with that same level of consistent energy for 40 minutes.”
Ball State has lost four straight games to Bowling Green, including the loss Saturday afternoon. Junior guard Ishmael El-Amin, who scored 16 points, didn’t attribute the loss to a matchup problem, but rather the team getting outworked.
“I think we match up well with them,” El-Amin said. “They have just outworked and outplayed us. We fought back in the last three minutes of this game, but it wasn’t enough.”
The Cardinals' bench was outscored 22-9 on the afternoon along with Ball State losing the rebound battle 44-36. Bowling Green also controlled the paint, scoring 38 down low compared to the Cardinals’ 30.
“It was just an off day for us,” El-Amin said. “We didn’t come ready to go from the jump, and they outworked us and out-toughed us. Our defense wasn’t on point like it has been all year, so now it is back to the drawing board, and we have to get better tomorrow.”
Whitford said he was not pleased with how many second-chance points Ball State gave up, allowing 15 while only putting up six. He said it was due to not being a step ahead of the Falcons and being too slow to the ball at times.
“There were too many times where the ball was coming off of the rim and Bowling Green was bouncing off of trampolines, and we are just sitting there watching the ball,” Whitford said. “Those are the plays that will bother us the most.”
The Cardinals travel to Buffalo Tuesday to play the third-best rebounder in the Mid-American Conference, Josh Mballa, who averages 9.2 a contest. Buffalo also ranks first in offensive rebounding with 14 a game.
Whitford said he is going to do his best to prepare the team to have a better pursuit of the ball and an overall better effort.
“We are going to watch film, and we have to do a better job blocking out,” Whitford said. “You have to be able to block out and pursue the ball. They are getting a lot of rebounds, and they are going to get it at its highest point. I thought there were a lot of times we were on the floor waiting for the ball to come down. We have to be bouncy. If you want the rebound, you have to go get it.”
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