After their win over Oakland City on Tuesday, Nov. 14, Ball State head coach Michael Lewis said he wanted his team to start the first half better going forward. Yet in Saturday’s game against Evansville, the goal continued to be an issue.
“Before the first media timeout, I knew we were in trouble,” Lewis said. “I could tell on the first few possessions that we weren't ready to play.”
The Cardinals recorded four turnovers in the first four minutes that left the second-year head coach pacing the sideline. During the rest of the half, Ball State found some success in certain stretches. However, that did not last for the rest of the game as the red and black fell to the Purple Aces 74-50 for their first loss of the 2023-24 season.
“It was just a complete debacle from the beginning,” Lewis said. “So we're gonna have to look at what we're doing. That’s two games in a row where we’ve played ridiculous basketball.”
During Ball State’s first road game of the season, many things went wrong according to Lewis. From Cardinals arguing about fouls to poor execution, it seemed nothing Ball State tried had any effect.
“All we did in the first half was talk to the officials, and I have no idea where that's coming from,” Lewis said. “I hadn't seen that to this point and that comes from a lot of our veteran guys.”
In their first three games of the campaign, the Cardinals have found ways to limit turnovers and force their opponent to cough up the ball instead. In the loss, they walked off the court after giving up 18 turnovers and only forcing nine.
“[It was due to our] aggressiveness and softness,” Lewis said. “We just didn't compete. I was really, really, really disappointed in how we competed.”
While ball handling and not taking advantage of Evansville’s mistakes plagued the Cardinals, their shooting was another cold spot that hurt their chances. In the first half, Ball State went 11-for-27 (40.7 percent) from the field, which included 5-for-7 (71.4 percent) from three-point range.
However, the second half saw Ball State’s offensive issues go further as they went 5-for-21 (20.8 percent) from the field. From deep, they missed all seven of their three-point attempts. With this, the Cardinals finished the game going 16-for-51 (31.4 percent) and scored their lowest number of points since the 2021-22 season.
Junior forward Basheer Jihad led Ball State with 21 points and eight rebounds. Junior guard Jalin Anderson came into the game as Ball State’s leading scorer as he averaged 19.7 points per game. However, he went 1-for-12 from the field and only recorded four points in the loss.
The Daily News attempted to speak with both Jihad and Anderson. However, those requests were denied.
On-court issues were not the only negative factors for Ball State. Other items such as players’ amount of minutes were something fans may have not noticed while watching the in-state match.
“You have to get past yourself,” Lewis said. “You can't worry about knowing how many minutes you're playing. You gotta be worried about winning.
“When you get an opportunity [to play] and you turn the ball over twice in two minutes, like, dude, you don't get to stay out here and continue to turn the ball over… We just have a lot of growing up to do.”
Ball State will attempt to return to the win column when the Cardinals welcome USC Upstate to Worthen Arena on Tuesday, Nov. 21. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m.
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