Ball State’s Matt Kamieniecki recorded his third double-double of the season with 15 points and 10 rebounds to go along with three steals. Jeremie Tyler led the Cardinals (3-6) with 17 points, while Franko House finished with 11.
Winston Shepard scored 15 points and handed out five assists to lead a San Diego State team (8-3) that extended its home court winning streak to 20 games.
Though it didn’t play its most fundamentally sound game, Ball State demonstrated grit and toughness in hanging with the much larger Aztecs. The Cardinals shot 41.3 percent from the floor against one of the nation’s best defensive teams and nearly matched San Diego State on the glass.
“I felt like we really competed, and I think we have competed every game but one this year,” Ball State coach James Whitford said. “I thought we came out nervous. You combine that with the way they press, and that really bothered us. I think we had 12 turnovers in the first 10 minutes. We settled down and honestly played them pretty even from that point on, but we dug ourselves a hole early.”
Kamieniecki and House were aggressive in taking the ball to the basket despite facing a size disadvantage and going against one of the country’s top shot blockers in Skylar Spencer.
“Those guys did a good job,” Whitford said. “San Diego State has great shot blockers, and I thought both of them used the shot fake effectively, which was a big part of the talk for us coming in.”
On the perimeter, Tyler was there to knock down three of Ball State’s four 3-pointers when the Cardinals were able to break the San Diego State pressure.
It was a 10-point game at halftime, though Sean Sellers nearly made it much closer with a three at the buzzer. Video replay determined the shot, and a foul on the play, came just after the first-half clock had expired.
Ball State pulled within seven early in the second half, but it couldn’t claw any closer. San Diego State pushed its lead to as many as 17.
“Our half-court defense was really good until about the 8:00-minute mark,” Whitford said. “I thought we wore down as the game went on, and we didn’t defend great when we got tired. But up until that point, I thought we defended really well.”
Ball State is now off until Dec. 28 when it will returns to Worthen Arena to host Longwood at 2 p.m. The Cardinals have two games remaining before Mid-American Conference play begins.
(Courtesy of BSU Athletics/MRO Edit)