With the win the Broncos improve to 17-11 overall on the season and 8-7 in Mid-American Conference play. Ball State dropped its 13th consecutive game and fell to 7-19 on the campaign (2-13 MAC).
The Broncos smothered BSU defensively, holding the hosts to a 31.3 field goal percentage overall and a 21.7 percent mark from three-point range. WMU controlled the rebounding battle with a 33-30 advantage and forced 15 Ball State turnovers, turning those giveaways into 17 points while allowing just 13 points off turnovers.
Connar Tava recorded the Broncos team-high with 13 points while also recording eight rebounds and three assists. Senior David Brown notched 12 points in 33 minutes. AJ Avery came off the bench for a career-high 11 points, nine rebounds and two blocked shots in 21 minutes of action, providing key minutes in a physical contest in the post.
Bo Calhoun tallied 15 points to lead Ball State. Sean Seller collected 13 points and Franco House added 10.
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The Cardinals’ suffered through an offensive drought that ran from the 19:14 mark until the 14:50 mark when Calhoun collected an errant pass and made a hook shot in the paint to make it 9-4.
AJ Avery got Western going again with a 15-footer from the right wing at the 13:45 mark, but Ball State responded with a trey by Francis Kiapway to cut it to 11-7. Avery delivered another jumper from the baseline to make it 17-9, and Thomas Wilder connected with an open Mario Matasovic on the other end of a fast break to make it a 10-point game with 6:22 left in the half.
The Cardinals continued to chip away, though, going on a 13-2 run to take a 22-21 lead thanks to a three-pointer from Franko House from the left corner at the 1:12 mark.
Tava put the Broncos back ahead with a pair of free throw makes with 1:00 remaining, but Calhoun recaptured the advantage with two foul shots of his own. Richie then added two more free throws to make it 25-24, and the Broncos held a one-point lead entering the locker room at halftime.
Neither team made a shot from the field in the second half until the 16:50 mark when Brown drilled an NBA-range three-pointer from the right wing to make it 29-24. Tava connected with Brown on a back door cut to make it 32-29 with 14:20 to play in regulation, and the junior forward helped the cause with an and-one on the next offensive possession to give WMU a six-point advantage. Brown made it a seven-point lead with a drive and lay-up to make it 39-32, and Avery kept it at seven points with an offensive putback at the 9:43 mark.
Ball State pulled closer late in the game, making it 44-41 after a 12-foot jumper by Calhoun, and Drake LaMont got an easy lay-up look with 3:26 remaining to bump the Bronco advantage up to 48-41. Sean Sellers cut the Broncos’ lead to 50-47 by banking a contested three-pointer in with 28.1 seconds remaining in regulation, but Richie tacked on a pair of free throws with 11 ticks left to make it a two-possession game and seal the road win for the Broncos.
Eastern Michigan at Eastern Michigan (Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET)
Ball State at Toledo (Saturday, 7 p.m. ET)