“We came into the game and didn’t . . .
Entering the game, BSU was fourth in the league, allowing opponents to hit only 33 percent from the arc. At home, they held five opponents to 29 percent from the 3-point line.
Pepperdine, hitting just 34 percent from the 3-point line for the season, enjoyed success from the arc by making 10-of-19 attempts. That tied the Waves' season high for shots made from long range.
The biggest of those baskets proved to be a dagger from Shawn Olden with 1:45 to play that put the Waves (6-4) ahead 65-61. It was his final three in a 4-for-4 performance from the arc and came from about 25 feet with 2 seconds on the shot clock.
“That was a back-breaker, (but) I’m fine with that one; it happened and it was a prayer,” Cardinals coach James Whitford said. “It was the other ones.”
The Waves’ percentage of .526 from the arc was their best in the past six games. They made just 26 percent of their 3-point attempts in their previous three road games.
Whitford was mostly concerned with Olden and A.J. Lapray as threats from the arc.
“Other than those two, statistically speaking, they’re one of the worst 3-point shooting teams in college basketball,” Whitford said. “The challenge for us was to limit those guys.”
The Cardinals (7-3) didn’t, and neither could they control forward Stacy Davis - a handful to contain inside - from the perimeter. The senior forward made all four of his 3-point attempts, tying his career high.
“He’s a good shooter, but if you choose to take that part of his game away, you can pay an incredible price,” Whitford said. “We wanted to make every one he shot challenged, but we weren’t going to lose our mind if he banged 3’s because he’s the best low-post player we’ve had to deal with this year.”
Ball State had its moments from the 3-point line, but in shooting 39 percent from the arc, it lived and eventually died with the long ball.
Kiapway shot the Cardinals back into the game after they trailed 39-30 at halftime. He was 3-for-5 from the arc in the second half, including back-to-back baskets early in the period. The second turned into a four-point play.
“I saw (A.J. John) fly at me, and when he hit me, I fell on the floor before I saw the ball go in,” Kiapway said of the rare 4-point play.
Kiapway hit another 3 with 7:30 to play that gave Ball State a 57-54 lead.
The Cardinals stayed ahead most of the next four minutes before faltering down the stretch.
Pepperdine went ahead 62-61 on a jumper by Lamond Murray Jr. with 3:17 to play. The lead was the first for the Waves since a two-point edge with 9:44 to go, and they never trailed again.
The Cardinals missed seven of their final eight shots. After hitting 9-of-18 3-pointers in the first 37 minutes, they were 0-for-5 in the final three minutes of the game.
Kiapway thought Ball State was “rattled” during that stretch.
“We got the lead and got rattled, and (Pepperdine) stayed composed during winning time,” he said.
Pepperdine outscored Ball State 12-2 in the final 3:15.
Whitford said the Cardinals’ drought from the 3-point line in the closing minutes didn’t cost his team a chance at a seventh straight victory, which would have tied for the ninth longest in school history.
“What cost us the game was (Pepperdine’s) ability to execute in the final two and a half, 3 minutes,” he said.
Bo Calhoun led the Cardinals with 14 points and nine rebounds. Ryan Weber added 13 points and Franko House and Kiapway each had 10. Ball State’s bench combined for just 10 points, its lowest output of the season.
Davis led Pepperdine with 16 points and 12 rebounds, his fourth double-double of the season, and added five assists. Olden came off the bench for 18 points.
Ball State is off for 10 days before traveling to Indiana State for a game at 7 p.m. Dec. 22.
(Courtesy of BSU Athletics)