Yet at the end of the day, it was his two clutch 3-pointers that helped the Cardinals to a 70-63 victory, snapping a three-game losing streak to the Sycamores (3-5).
The Cardinals (3-3) overcame a 30-22 halftime deficit by shooting nearly 64 percent from the floor and knocking down 6 of 10 from 3-point range in the second half.
“That was a great college basketball game; the energy in the building was outstanding,” Ball State head coach James Whitford said. “I was really proud of our team. We have let some bad plays mushroom for us this year, and it was a big theme for us in the second half to focus on the next play. I thought we did that for the whole half.”
“Zavier made some really important decisions in transition in the second half,” Whitford said. “Getting those points in crunch time was really the difference in the game for us.”
Kamieniecki also grabbed 10 rebounds for his second double-double of the season. His lay-in after a pass from Turner gave the Cardinals a 60-58 lead in a back-and-forth game with 2:11 to play.
Indiana State briefly regained the lead on a Brenton Scott 3-pointer, but Kiapway answered with treys on the next two Ball State possessions for a 66-61 lead. The Cardinals were then able to ice the game at the free throw line.
“Francis stayed in the game not because of his ability to shoot, but because he was very sound defensively,” Whitford said. “He made some huge defensive plays prior to that. I couldn’t (but) be happier for him because he loves the game as much as any player I’ve ever coached. It was great to see him step up and play well.”
In addition to improved shooting, the Cardinals began to dominate the glass in the second half. Indiana State held a 22-18 rebounding advantage at halftime, but Ball State out-rebounded the Sycamores by a 17-8 margin after the break.
Justin Gant and Khristian Smith led Indiana State with 16 and 15 points, respectively.
Ball State will now have the week off for final exams. The Cardinals will return to action Saturday, Dec. 13 with a 7 p.m. CT (8 p.m. ET) tipoff at Valparaiso.
(Courtesy of BSU Athletics)