Kiapway drilled a deep ball with 0.7 seconds left in the second overtime to lift the Cardinals to an 88-87 victory at the Convocation Center. It was a wild finish to a back-and-forth game. Saturday’s victory also marked the second year in a row Ball State won at Eastern Michigan on an overtime 3-pointer. Last year, Sean Sellers drilled a corner three to beat the Eagles in the MAC opener.
“I thought we played . . .
The Cardinals (13-6, 4-2 Mid-American Conference) had looks with the game tied at the end of regulation and the first overtime, but 3-pointers from Ryan Weber and Trey Moses were off the mark.
Ball State’s worst chance appeared to be the final possession of the second OT. Down by two, Kiapway had a contested look from the left corner that went long, and Eastern Michigan’s Brandon Nazione tracked it down in the other corner. The Cardinals trapped Nazione as the clock ticked down and eventually wrestled the ball free. Weber came up with it and found Kiapway for an open look at the top.
Kiapway finished with a career-high 22 points, and four other Cardinals joined him in double figures – Jeremie Tyler (17), Franko House (15), Bo Calhoun (14) and Moses (12). Moses’ 12 points were a career-high, while Calhoun added a career-best 14 rebounds for a double-double.
Kiapway started the game at point guard, giving the Cardinals more shooting options against Eastern Michigan’s unique, extended zone defense.
“Francis is a great 3-point shooter,” Whitford said. “Against their zone, you’re going to have to shoot a lot of 3’s ... We had a lot of careless passes against their zone, but it’s such a unique zone you can’t really simulate it in practice, and it takes a while to get adjusted.”
Ball State overcame 25 turnovers and a dialed-in free throw shooting performance by Eastern Michigan. The Eagles (10-9, 2-4 MAC) went 30 for 34 from the foul line, while the Cardinals were 22 for 34.
Such stats are atypical of road wins, but Ball State won the game by controlling the glass, 46-38, and outscoring Eastern Michigan, 36-9, from 3-point range.
“We always say defense travels,” Whitford said. “We held them to 38 percent from the field, 17 percent from three and forced them to turn it over 17 times. Those are terrific numbers on defense.”
There were a total of 57 fouls called in the game. Calhoun fouled out for Ball State, while James Thompson and Tim Bond fouled out for Eastern Michigan.
House picked up three fouls in the first 10 minutes of the game but managed to get just one after sitting the remainder of the first half. He scored nine points and got to the free throw line eight times in the second half as he made a concerted effort to attack the basket.
Thompson and Ty Toney led Eastern Michigan with 23 points each. Toney scored 14 of his total in the second half, carrying the load for EMU. A 3-point play from Thompson tied the game in the closing minutes of regulation to force overtime, while Nazione hit two free throws with three seconds left in the first OT to extend the game again.
NEXT: Ball State is at Buffalo (Tuesday, 7 p.m. ET). Eastern Michigan hosts Kent State (Tuesday, 7 p.m. ET).
(Courtesy of BSU Athletics)