Ball State turnover. Buffalo layup. Ball State turnover. Buffalo miss, but then another Ball State turnover. Buffalo 3-pointer, Ball State answers. Then back-to-back turnovers lead to back-to-back 3-pointers. Coach Lewis calls a timeout. The score is 12 - 3.
Ball State (13-7, 4-3 MAC) could never recover from this sloppy start in its 26-point loss at the hands of Buffalo (10-10, 4-3 MAC), who never seemed to cool down, shooting 59.7 percent (37-of-62) from the field and 50 percent (11-of-22) from the perimeter.
Cardinal head coach Michael Lewis applauds the Bulls and said it was the successful game plan and a lack of resistance that was the cause of the crushing defeat.
“Hats off to Buffalo. [They had an] excellent game plan. They came in from the beginning and went right at us, very similar to Kent State,” he said. “[The Bulls’ mentality was] ‘Just go right at these guys and take their heart’ and we did not respond, we did not have the fight.”
Ball State shot 40 percent (24-of-60) from the field to go with 39.1 percent (9-of-23) from deep. In a poor performance from the team, Redshirt Senior guard Jarron Coleman was a bright spot for the Cardinals, scoring 27 points on 47.6 percent (10-of-21 FG) and 70% (7-of-10 3pt), tying the game high.
In addition to the scoring, Coleman tried to lead his team and will them back in the game with a few big-time 3-pointers. Coach Lewis said he’s the only vocal leader he has.
“[Jarron’s] really the only guy that will speak. Getting some of these guys to talk is difficult. I've tried to empower a couple guys in some leadership roles, and they're probably just not ready for it yet. He's the one guy that's played a lot of college basketball,” he said. “He's got his own deficiencies, but he's got a really high basketball IQ, like you can sit down and have a real basketball conversation with him, he understands and he sees things.”
For weeks Lewis has thanked the Worthen Arena crowd and used them as fuel toward an 8-0 home stand this season, but after suffering the first home loss, he is upset with the product his team put on the floor tonight.
“There's been a lot of work done by this team over the last couple of months, to put themselves in a position to play in front of a crowd like we did tonight and then to put that type of effort on the floor is about embarrassing of a performance that you can you can have, so to be disappointed in our team right now would be an understatement,” he said.
At the beginning of the second half, Ball State seemed to have come with a different fire and wasn’t giving up that easy. A few big plays and defensive stops led to them cutting the once 22-point lead to just nine. However, common with most of the game, a costly turnover and a few big plays from Buffalo put this to a halt.
Lewis believed it was a deficiency on the offensive end that cost his side the game.
“I think we took a bad or a rushed shot or two and that's where we've got to keep our composure a little bit and not force. We were offensive sensitive the whole night,” he said. “We tried to go get it all back at one time instead of just allowing the offense to work and get good shots.”
This is now back-to-back losses for the Cardinals, their first such series since the two buzzer-beating losses at the hands of San Jose State and Duquesne on Nov. 27 and Dec. 3, respectively.
“These guys have been unbelievable, you can't ever take what they accomplished up until this point away from, but like I told [the team], it takes months to build this, and you can tear down in an instant just like that,” Lewis said.
Lewis said he was happy with the fans tonight but says he wouldn’t blame them for their disheartenment with this team after tonight.
“It's not the loss. It's our performance… If I was somebody that paid to watch his team tonight, I wouldn't come back. I wouldn't even come back for the free beer I'm passing out to watch that. That's where I'm at with this.” he said. “It's completely embarrassing that we took the floor and performed like that, and I've got to get that fixed.”
Ball State looks to end this losing streak this Saturday, Jan. 28 at Northern Illinois (8-12, 4-3 MAC).