Ball State Men's Basketball (7-10, 2-4 MAC) traveled to Toledo (14-4, 6-1 MAC) and lost 83-70 for its third consecutive loss against Mid-American Conference opponents. The young Cardinals have been tested early on in conference play, as they have gone against three top teams in the MAC. Here are three takeaways from the Cardinals' loss:
Balance scoring attack
Despite Ball State's double-figure loss and a three-game losing streak, they have still seen multiple players score double-digit points in each of the last three games. Freshman center Payton Sparks led Ball State with his third consecutive double-double with 17 points and 14 rebounds, while sophomore guard Tyler Cochran produced his first double-double of the season with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Redshirt junior forward Miryne Thomas also had 13 points and seven rebounds, while junior guard Luke Bumbalough tallied 12 points to his total. Freshman guard Jaylin Sellers had eight points and contributed to Ball State's 16-2 run at the end of the game.
Toledo went on big runs
Even though Ball State was able to go into halftime down just three points and even go on a 16-2 run to close the game, it was Toledo's runs, especially in the second half, that head coach James Whitford said ultimately made a difference in the game.
"We gave up huge runs," Whitford said. "I thought that was the difference in the game. I thought we got a little overwhelmed in moments like that. When the game was going hard for us you could see a dip in our energy level and our toughness. That's what I was referring to. You've got to be able to play with that competitive character when the game is going well and when it's not going well. Toledo is a good team."
With 5:55 left in the first half, Toledo was able to go on a 16-0 run to go up 30-20. While Ball State was able to muster together a run of its own, it wasn't enough to overcome the Rocket's second-half performance, as the Rockets went on a 36-17 run at one point giving them their largest lead of the game, 81-54.
Need to finish games
In three consecutive games, Sparks emphasized the Cardinals needing to finish games. In the last two games, it has come down to the final few minutes, but Bal State ultimately fell short. In Tuesday's loss to Toledo, the Cardinals were leading the Rockets until they opened things up, leading by as many as 27 points.
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