Cardinals MBB Hosts Omaha In Home Debut

By: Alec Runyan

Ball State Sports Link

Ball State (0-1) men’s basketball will make its home debut for 2021-2022 regular season this Saturday against the Omaha Mavericks (1-0) tipping off at noon.

The game will be aired on ESPN 3 presented by Sports Link with Tristan Russell producing and Cameron Surdyk directing. Ryan Klimcak and Charlie Maurer will be on the call for the first men’s basketball broadcast of the year.

SL Digital will also be covering the game with Hunter Ongay and Nathan Ganger bringing you the action from the booth.

Where: Worthern Arena

When: Saturday, November 13 Noon EST

Listen: SL Digital

Watch: ESPN 3

The Cardinals dropped the season opener at Georgia Southern Tuesday night by a final score of 71-82. Despite Georgia Southern pulling away late with a double-digit victory, both teams went back and forth with several lead changes throughout the 40-minutes.

The game was all square at 41-41 entering halftime, but turnovers and a late 5-0 run from the Eagles proved to be the difference. The Cardinals finished with 17 turnovers compared to Georgia Southern’s 12.

Even in the loss there was a lot of positive to take away for this young and somewhat inexperienced Ball State team. Junior Luke Bumbalough led all scorers with a career-high 21 points, making 5-of-9 of his 3-point attempts, the second most in his career. Coming off the bench Jalen Windham stepped up in a big way, playing in 24 minutes and scoring 12 points, including three deep balls of his own.

Battling through some foul trouble, senior leader Miryne Thomas still made an impact on both ends of the floor for the Cardinals. Thomas finished the game with 11 points, four rebounds, three assists, and two steals in just 20 minutes.

Freshmen Payton Sparks and Jaylin Sellers both put on impressive performances in their collegiate debuts.

Playing in his home state of Georgia, Sellers scored nine points going 4-of-8 from the field. One of the game’s best highlights came on a fast break that ended in an emphatic slam from the freshman.

Playing as the only true post player in the Cardinals’ starting lineup, Sparks was very active in the paint. He finished with a game-high 12 rebounds to go along with six points and two steals.

“I thought Payton’s most encouraging thing was probably how dominant he was at the rim at both ends getting rebounds,” head coach James Whitford said following the game. “He was the most physical guy out there. You can tell he has a chance to be a really good player. That’s the Payton we see every day in practice.”

Georgia Southern saw several strong performances from a number of players. Geidi Juozapaitis led the way scoring 15 points, with five other Eagles in double-digits as well.

Moving forward, Ball State turn its attention to Omaha on Saturday afternoon. The Mavericks won their first contest against NAIA opponent Hastings College 67-57 in its season debut. Neither team shot the ball very well, as Omaha finished the game shooting just 42.9% from the field and 25% (4-16) from three-point range.

Freshman Frankie Fidler had a strong outing in his first game, scoring a game-high 15 points as well as pulling in six rebounds. He was also a perfect 6-6 from the free throw line. Kyle Luedtke and Marco Smith both provide several years of experience for the Mavericks, each scoring 10 points against Hastings.

Omaha was just 5-20 a season ago, but much like Ball State, brought in numerous new faces to this year’s team.

Saturday’s contest between the two will tip-off at noon EST as the Cardinals look to pick up their first win of the new season.