Saturday will last a while for Ball State Men's Basketball and its fans as the Cardinals embark on a 21-day hiatus from Worthen Arena following their win over IU-South Bend 86-72.
Ball State (3-1, 0-0 MAC) defeated the Titans (3-4, 1-1 CCAC) 86-72 in an aggressive fight to the finish for their last home game before the Baha Mar Hoops Nassau Championship tournament.
IU-South Bend found themselves in foul trouble ending the first half with 11 personal fouls for the first half. This allowed the Cardinals to hit the bonus with seven minutes left before the break.
The Cardinals shot 11 of 15 (73%) from the free throw line head coach Michael Lewis appreciated the Cardinals' efforts to continue to take the tough shots that brought them to the free throw line.
“I like our tactic to go inside and get to the free throw line," he said. "You know I mean I think that's how you generate points."
Going into the half the Cardinals held a seven-point lead over their second non-division I team this season.
“I don't care if we're playing Indiana – South Bend or we're playing Indiana, like there's a standard of play that we want to establish here, and that's what we played," Lewis said. "You gotta respect the game. You gotta respect your opponent.”
In the second half, sophomore guard Jaylin Sellers built on his first half performance to finish with 18 points and 14 rebounds to make for a career-high performance in both categories.
Sellers made emphasized the age-old saying that “defense wins championships."
“It’s cool to know that I played hard to get some rebounds and points, [but] it doesn't really concern me cause that’s going to take care of itself," Sellers said. "What I’m focused on is defense because what if I have an off night, because if I play better on the defensive end it could've boosted [the performance] even more.”
Sellers' performance helped the Cardinals get away from the back-and-forth lead changes as Ball State did not trail in the game.
The Titans put up a fight with guard Donyell Meredith put up 19 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists in defiance. Nine points of his total game from behind the arc, something the Cardinals needed to adjust to.
Sellers attested to the point that teamwork truly does make the dream work when having to make adjustments to players on the other team getting hot.
“The man off the ball has to help the defender by not getting blown by, and we have to come together and work together to stop somebody," Sellers said.
The Cardinals go on to play the Vermont Catamounts in the Baha Mar Hoops Nassau Championship Tournament Nov. 25th at noon in Nassau, Bahamas.
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