The sophomore center grabbed a career-high 16 rebounds and found open teammates from both the low and the high post for five assists. But the play that stood out the most was his blocked shot in the final 10 seconds against Coppin State's hottest player. It was one of his four blocks on the day.
Ball State (2-2) had a difficult time guarding . . .
After Tayler Persons converted a three-point play with 28 seconds left to put the Cardinals back in front 79-77, Coppin State put the ball back in Shivers' hands.
Coppin State (0-6) was forced to foul. Ball State missed both attempts but survived a driving attempt high off the glass from Dejuan Clayton in the final second.
"I was proud of the way we started and proud of the way we finished," Ball State coach James Whitford said. "I thought we played a really good first half. Then the game got away from us, and they got to the rim a lot. But we really played to win down the stretch and made some key plays."
Persons recorded a double-double with 19 points, all in the second half, and 10 assists. He was a facilitator in the first half, running the offense and finding open teammates. He was much more aggressive going to the basket in the second half.
The sophomore point guard was just as effective in both halves. Over the opening 20 minutes, he helped Ball State build a 40-29 lead. Over the final 20, he provided offense when the Cardinals' outside shots stopped falling. Ball State opened the game 5 of 10 from 3-point range but finished just 9 of 27.
"Tayler had 10 assists and one turnover in the game, and that's the sign of a true point guard," Whitford said. "He didn't score in the first half, but he played a dynamite first half. He was every bit as good in the first half as the second, maybe even better. He played a complete game. He was really big for us down the stretch, but he was really big all game."
Sean Sellers had the hot hand early from 3-point range, while Ryan Weber hit a couple of clutch treys in the second half. Both players made three of them on the day. Weber drained 3's on back-to-back possessions late in the game, and Tahjai Teague finished a tough transition lay-up to give the Cardinals a 72-63 cushion with 3:47 to play before Coppin State's comeback.
The Eagles went on a 14-3 run over the next three minutes to grab their only lead of the game before Persons' three-point play put the Cardinals back on top.
Sellers finished with 16 points, while Teague and Weber had 10 each. Franko House added 12 points in only 18 minutes of action to give the Cardinals five scorers in double figures.
House fouled out with 10:40 left in a game that was rife with foul trouble for Ball State. Teague eventually fouled out, as well, and Francis Kiapway played the final five minutes with four fouls. The Cardinals were whistled for 28 fouls in the game to 19 for Coppin State.
Ball State will close out the Men Who Speak Up Main Event Wednesday against Southern Utah. Tipoff is slated for 12:30 p.m. PT (3:30 ET).
(Courtesy of BSU Athletics)