By MIKE SMITH
OXFORD, Ohio – Forwards Franko House and Bo Calhoun combined for 14 points in Ball State’s narrow 48-46 win over Miami back in mid-January. Both players got untracked Tuesday night as Ball State pulled away from a four-point halftime lead to hand the hosting RedHawks a 73-56 loss.
Ball State’s victory, coupled with Toledo’s loss at Central Michigan, moved the Cardinals (17-9, 8-5 MAC) into sole possession of first place in the MAC West. BSU heads into Saturday’s games with a one-game lead over Northern Illinois, Toledo and Central Michigan.
House, who hit all 13 of his shots from the charity stripe, shared game-high honors with Miami’s Eric Washington. Both . . .
Miami’s only other double figure was Geovonie McKnight, who contributed 17 points to the RedHawks’ cause.
Ball State broke the game open with a good start following intermission. House came up with a steal just nine seconds into the period and converted an old-fashioned three-point play at the other end to put the visitors up by seven.
McKnight made one of two free throws, providing MU with its only point over the first five minutes of the second half.
House hit two more charity tosses before Calhoun followed with a trey, and less than two minutes into the final frame, Ball State had a double digit lead at 40-29.
“We’ve got to start better (in) those first four or five minutes,” said Washington, a point guard who had shouldered much of Miami’s scoring this season. However, both he and fellow senior Geovonie McKnight, thrive on a penetration game. Ball State, as well as other recent opponents, are trying to take that away.
“They’re packing it in (on defense), because obviously we’re not shooting the ball well right now,” Washington said. “
“They’re just trying to … force us to shoot outside jump shots,” he continued. “It’s not rocket science. We’ve just got to knock down shots when we’ve got ‘em.”
Miami (9-17, 3-10 MAC) is last in the MAC in field goal percentage (39.7%) and 3-point goal percentage (29.7%). The RedHawks hit 36.5 percent overall and 33.3 percent in the second half as BSU pulled away by shooting 52.6 percent in the final stanza. The Cardinals made 7-of-17 from beyond the arc over 40 minutes, while MU connected on 3-of-17. Two of the three were by Washington late when BSU held a comfortable lead.
Ball State, which owned a 37-30 advantage on the boards, led for 30:31. Its largest lead was 22 points with 2:31 remaining in the game.