A double-digit second-half lead evaporated, and the Cardinals were locked in a tie game down the stretch. But just as it did Saturday against Longwood, Ball State regained control and pulled away, this time for a 72-60 win over South Carolina State. The victory polished off a 2-1 weekend at the @EKUHoops Classic at Eastern Kentucky’s McBrayer Arena and left BSU 3-2 on the young season.
Franko House scored 18 points and Bo Calhoun had a double-double with 16 points and a career-high 13 rebounds.
Sean Sellers finished with 12 points on four 3-pointers, including three during a key stretch late in the first half, and Ryan Weber added 10 points.
Ball State opened the second-half on a 14-5 run to turn a six-point halftime advantage into a 47-32 lead with 14:05 to play. The Cardinals then went cold from the field with just two field goals over the next 10 minutes. South Carolina State (2-3) came all the way back and tied the game at 54 on a tough 3-pointer from Ty Soloman, who was one of three Bulldogs to score a team-high 11 points.
Still tied coming out of the final media timeout, Calhoun scored the next four points. Jeremiah Davis broke South Carolina State’s full-court pressure and found Calhoun under the basket on two straight possessions, resulting in a pair of free throws the first time and a dunk the next.
“Jeremiah did a great job against their press,” Whitford said. “Their press was giving us problems. They had started to rotate their fifth guy up into the press, which Jeremiah identified, and he hit Bo directly for four big points.”
Ball State allowed just one field goal over the final four minutes and never trailed again. For the second game in a row, the Cardinals were able to seal the win at the free throw line, going 12 for 15 on foul shots over the last four minutes.
Ball State out-rebounded its fourth straight opponent with a 42-32 advantage on the glass. The Cardinals collected 13 offensive rebounds and turned them into 18 second-chance points. The team also continued to share the ball with 16 assists on 23 baskets, led by Davis and Calhoun with four assists each.
After three games in three days in Richmond, Ky., Ball State will now return to Muncie for eight of its next nine games. The Cardinals will play twice during Thanksgiving week, hosting IU Kokomo at 7 p.m. Wednesday and Valparaiso at 2 p.m. Saturday at Worthen Arena.
“We have something to build on,” Whitford said. “We’re moving in the right direction. We just have to keep grinding, keep getting better. We’re excited to be going back home. We’ve played five games, and only one of them has been on our home court. We’re looking forward to a long stretch of games at home.”
(Courtesy of BSU Athletics)