Ball State Men’s Basketball (11-12, 6-6 MAC) is down 75-71 to Central Michigan (6-15, 5-4 MAC) with 1:38 left in the game, junior guard Demarius Jacobs drives down the court and makes a layup plus the foul to make it 75-73. The Cardinals get a stop on defense and with 53 seconds left, freshman guard Jaylin Sellers catches a pass in the corner and hits a 3-pointer to give Ball State a 76-75 lead.
On the next possession for the Chippewas, they drive it in for a layup and Sellers gets a block off of the backboard to send the crowd out of their seats. Central Michigan gets the ball back and Ball State makes a stop. They are fouled and make the free-throws to give them a 78-75 lead.
Central Michigan’s Cameron Healy catches a pass on the next possession and makes a 3-pointer. Jacobs runs down the length of the court with a chance to win the game and misses a reverse layup to send the game to overtime.
In overtime, Central Michigan scored the first six points before Sellers made a layup with 45 seconds to keep Ball State’s hopes alive. They got a steal in the backcourt and freshman center Payton Sparks made a layup to cut the Cardinals’ deficit to 86-84. Ultimately, in the final seconds, Central Michigan was able to make its final free throws and win 89-85.
“Just have to keep stacking days of practice and keep going,” Sparks said. “We will learn from this game and learn from all the past games and just keep moving on. We're going to keep competing. I trust this team. I love this team. So we're gonna keep competing every day.”
Central Michigan started the game hot and never looked back. In the first five minutes, they went 3-for-6 from deep, forcing Ball State to call a timeout. They led 14-9.
Out of the timeout, both teams went back-and-forth. Sophomore guard Tyler Cochran passed it to Sparks in the post and immediately cut to the basket for a layup to force a Chippewas timeout. The first play out of the timeout Cochran dishes it to redshirt junior forward Miryne Thomas for a layup to tie the game up at 16.
Thomas led the game with 17 points and 11 rebounds followed by Sparks’ 16 points and 13 rebounds and Cochran’s 15 points and eight rebounds.
Later in the first half, Central Michigan’s Kevin Miller hit a pair of layups and Healy hit a 3-pointer to give Central Michigan a 26-18 lead. Ball State struggled in the first 13 minutes shooting, going just 1-for-9 from deep and 7-for-20 from the field.
3-point shooting continued to be a difference, as Ball State shot just 37 percent from deep on the game, while the Chippewas shot 45 percent. Head coach James Whitford said when Ball State got behind was when they began to struggle.
“I didn't think we had great composure when we got behind,”Whitford said. “Especially in overtime, there were a couple times we got rebounds and we were jumping up and looking for the foul and not playing with enough composure.”
In the closing minutes of the first half, the Cardinals were able to pick it up and work their way back in the game. A couple of Ball State steals led to four fastbreak points to tie it back up at 26. The Cardinals closed the half on a 10-1 run and took a 37-33 lead into halftime capped off by a Thomas dunk followed by a Sellers steal, leading to a slam in the fastbreak.
The Cardinals continued their run out of the break, as Jacobs hit a 3-pointer to give them their largest lead of the game at 40-33.
After a couple of Ball State turnovers and four Healy 3-pointers in the first six minutes of the second half, Central Michigan retook the lead and led 52-48. Healy ended the game with 27 points and seven 3-pointers.
“He was coming off pin downs and coming off screens,” Sparks said. “He's a really good shooter off the catch, and he just made plays down the stretch.”
After beating the No. 2 ranked team in the Mid-American Conference in Ball State’s last game, this loss is one that head coach James Whitford said they need to learn from and own up to.
“We Have to own it,” Whitford said. “Got to correct it. You have to move on. We got to go through the game film and learn the real lessons from the game.
Ball State travels to Buffalo to take on the Bulls Saturday, Feb. 12 at 2 p.m.
Contact Ian Hansen with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ianh_2.