Sean Sellers scored 14 points to lead Ball State (3-4), while Turner finished with 13 to go along with five assists. Alec Peters led all scorers with 23 points for Valparaiso (10-2).
Ball State was hot from beyond the arc in the first half, knocking down 8 of 14 from 3-point range. The Cardinals led by as many as 12 in the first 10 minutes of the game and survived a run by Valparaiso to take a 39-33 lead into halftime. However, the Crusaders took away the outside shot in the second half, limiting the Cardinals to just five attempts and one make.
Struggling to regain its offensive rhythm, Ball State found itself trailing by seven midway through the second half. The Cardinals battled back to tie the game, but then a 9-0 run from Valparaiso left them in a 63-54 hole with 1:27 left.
Ball State would not go away, using a 3-pointer from Sellers and five quick points from Turner to cut the deficit to 65-62. Valpo’s Jubril Adekoya then missed four free throws in the final 15 seconds, including two after the Cardinals were whistled for their second intentional foul of the game.
Turner took possession with seven seconds left after Adekoya’s final miss and raced the ball up the court before triggering a deep three that landed where the back iron meets the backboard.
Valparaiso finished the night 16 for 26 from the free throw line, while Ball State was 7 for 9 at the stripe. The Crusaders were also able to get out in transition off some long rebounds. They finished the night with 18 fastbreak points.
“When you play really talented teams, that’s how they look in transition,” Whitford said. “They’re really talented; they’re long. They had a tough time scoring in the half court, and they started turning the jets on in transition. I commend them. I think they have a really good team.”
Matt Kamieniecki had nine points and six rebounds for Ball State, while Francis Kiapway scored eight. Jeremie Tyler led the Cardinals in rebounding with a career-high eight boards. The Cardinals hung tough on the glass with a much bigger Valpo team, getting outrebounded just 39-38 for the game.
Ball State will now return home to host James Madison in its final home game before Christmas. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. Wednesday at Worthen Arena.
(Courtesy of BSU Athletics/MRO Edit)