Getting over the loss to Indiana State last weekend, the Cardinals found a way to bounce back for the start of the season against the Omaha Mavericks.
Ball State (2-1, 0-0 MAC) defeated Omaha (1-3, 0-0 SVC) 71-61 in a competitive game to go into the weekend with another win to the record.
Starting off with a slow pass offense, the Cardinals adjusted to the tempo by going on a scoring run to head into the half with a 10-point lead. Junior guard Jalen Windham scored 10 of his 15 points late in the first half to give the Cardinals a boost to carry away with the game.
Going into halftime, the Cardinals only had a total of four turnovers, at the sound of the buzzer to end the game that number more than quadrupled with the Cardinals turning the ball over 13 more times to total up to 17 for tonight's game.
“The second half we got a little bit out of character for some things, you know, as far as learning how to win," head coach Michael Lewis said. "And, you know, the good thing is, it didn't break us. We figured out a way to continue to fight and that was led by our defense. If we turn the ball over 13 times in the second half, when we quit guarding, we will probably have a different conversation.”
The Cardinals' turnover battle was the least of their problems in Nebraska, they had to close the game out by defending a late Maverick push for a comeback.
Ball State held Ohama to 11 of 34 (32%) from the field in the second half of the game, showing the defensive prowess that Lewis has expressed should be a clear factor in deciding games for them this season.
“We wanted to be solid, we wanted to make him play in tight spaces," he said. "We didn't want to get spread out and drive our ball screen coverages improving and we wanted to force them to take tough two’s and we did that the right way.”
Going into the closing minutes of the game, Windham exited the game with an ankle sprain as Ball State's scoring slowed and Omaha's comeback looked more aggressive.
Getting within nine points of the Cardinals' lead with a little over four minutes to go in the game, Ball State kept their composure and continued to execute their approach to close out the game.
The message from Lewis to his team in the huddle during a late timeout was just about making stops.
“I told them to stay together, you got to quit turning the ball over, you got to continue to get stops,” he said. “So really, the thing that we were preaching the whole night was continuing to get stops and continuing to make it difficult for them on their offensive end.”
Cardinals look to add to their win streak as they play IU-South Bend Nov. 19 at 2 p.m in Worthen Arena.
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