BY JACK KIZER | Sideline Reporter for Ball State Basketball on WCRD 91.3 FM
The Ball State men’s basketball team tries to recover this week after a disheartening home loss Saturday to IUPUI. The Cardinals take on Bradley Tuesday, followed by Eastern Kentucky Saturday. Both games can be heard with Sports Link Radio on 91.3 WCRD.
IUPUI 73 Ball State 62
Over the weekend, Ball State failed to put a complete game together despite a solid first half of play and fell to the IUPUI Jaguars in Worthen Arena.
In an eerily similar fashion to the Cardinals’ effort against Indiana State earlier in the season, IUPUI was able to hang around regardless of Ball State’s solid first half play. What differed from the early season loss to the Sycamores, however, was a Jaguars’ victory.
After a 36-29 Ball State lead at halftime — and the Cardinals stretching it to 11 midway through the second half — IUPUI came roaring back. Darrell Combs went on a 9-0 scoring run all by himself to pull his underdog team within one. Combs finished with 21 points, including 17 points in the second half.
From there, Ball State seemingly shut down on both sides of the ball as IUPUI looked much more loose and aggressive. The trio of Combs, Matt O’Leary (20 points) and Evan Hall (14 points) contributed 75 percent of IUPUI’s points.
On the offensive side of the ball for the Cardinals, four players ended in double digits, with Francis Kiapway leading the way with 14 points.
The team as a whole, however, could only manage 10 points through the final 11 minutes of play and went 3-for-10 from the free-throw line for the duration of the matchup. With Franko House in foul trouble the entire game and D.J McCall using his length to harass point guard Tayler Persons, scoring was a struggle the entire second half for the Cardinals and turnovers came frequently.
It was all too much for Ball State to overcome in the Jaguars’ comeback triumph.
The Next Two:
With Ball State’s usual two games per week, the Cardinals once again have a solid chance to win both matchups versus Bradley and Eastern Kentucky.
The first contest Tuesday against the Braves of Bradley serves as a rebound opportunity as well as a revenge opportunity.
In last year’s season opener, Ball State couldn’t hold off a scrappy Bradley team in a 53-54 loss. No player scored in double figures for Ball State, while the team as a whole shot a mere 36 percent. A game the Cardinals still felt they should have won stayed in the minds of players and coaches leading up to this year’s season opener with St. Louis.
With that motivation fueling them, it was a different story this year for the Cards in their first game. Tuesday’s matchup, however, is the real vengeance Ball State’s returning squad looks for.
Out of the Missouri Valley Conference, this year’s Bradley team has had a perfectly mediocre year with a 4-4 record, alternating wins and losses throughout their entire schedule. Darrell Brown leads the Braves averaging 13.6 points per game and 2.6 assists per game.
Saturday’s meeting with the Eastern Kentucky Colonels serves as yet another revenge game for the Cardinals. Two games after the loss to Bradley, Ball State fell at EKU in a high scoring affair 89-81. Ball State returns its three top scorers from that game: Ryan Weber (19 points), Franko House (17 points), Francis Kiapway (15 points).
The Colonels have a 5-4 record thus far and are led by Nick Mayo averaging 20.2 points per game. Mayo did not score despite starting in last year’s meeting with Ball State.
Tipoff for Saturday’s matchup between Ball state and Eastern Kentucky is set for 2 p.m.
Both Tuesday and Saturday’s games will have coverage provided by Sports Link Radio on 91.3 WCRD.