A second straight overtime road win kept Ball State (17-10, 8-6 MAC) alone atop the Mid-American Conference West Division standings. Central Michigan, meanwhile, dropped its third straight outing to fall two games off the pace in the divisional race.
“We’re playing good . . .
Trey Moses (14 points, 12 rebounds) and Franko House (11 points, 10 boards) finished with double-doubles as the Cardinals swept the season series from the Chippewas (16-11, 6-8 MAC). For Moses, it was his third double-double in a row.
Francis Kiapway matched his season-high with 18 points, while Ryan Weber (12), Sean Sellers (11) and Tahjai Teague (11) also scored double figures.
Ball State used an eight-point spurt from Kiapway in the final 90 seconds of the first half to build a 47-40 lead at the break. The Cardinals then led for all but 18 seconds of the second half.
Braylon Rayson’s fall-away 3-pointer from the corner tied the game at 90. The Cardinals had the last possession, but Kiapway’s three in the final seconds was off the mark, and the game went to overtime.
Just like Tuesday night at Northern Illinois, Ball State controlled the extra period.
Central Michigan grabbed the first lead on a Cecil Williams 3-point play. But the Cardinals followed with an 8-1 run, including a big 3-pointer from Sellers when the game was tied, to regain command. Ball State scored its final 12 points at the free throw line as Central Michigan fouled to try to stay in the game.
“I thought we played with great composure, especially at the end of the game,” Whitford said. “We had two bad possessions on offense at the end of regulation, and then they opened up with a 3-point play to start the overtime. It would have been easy for us to fold, but we didn’t.”
Central Michigan’s Marcus Keene, the nation’s leading scorer, had 40 points but needed 36 shots to get there. He went 6 for 20 from 3-point range. Rayson added 34 points.
Persons scored 23 of his 32 points after halftime to keep the Cardinals in front. He did a lot of his damage by getting in the paint for short jumpers, finishing the game 11 for 16 from inside the arc.
Ball State finished the game at 52 percent from the floor and knocked down 12 of 31 from 3-point range, including four treys each for Kiapway and Weber.
The Cardinals managed to win the game despite serious foul trouble. House and Moses both had four fouls with nine minutes left in regulation but managed to avoid picking up a fifth. Kiapway and Sellers both fouled out in overtime.
Ball State hosts Eastern Michigan Tuesday, while Central Michigan entertains Northern Illinois. Both games are at 7 p.m. ET.
(Courtesy of BSU Athletics)