Eastern Michigan (7-8, 1-1 MAC), the preseason MAC West Division favorite, had not played up to its potential this season, but it put it all together Tuesday. Ball State (10-5, 1-1) saw its four-game winning streak snapped and lost for just the second time in the past 11 games.
Eastern Michigan led by as many as four points in the first overtime, but Austin Nehls came through in the clutch with a wide open 3-pointer in front of the Ball State bench with 1.2 seconds left to force a second overtime at 73-all.
The second extra session saw ties at 78, 80 and 82 before EMU took the lead for good on a pair of Paul Jackson free throws with 17.7 seconds on the clock. On its final possession, Ball State couldn’t get a good look. Trey Moses wound up with the ball as the clock ticked down, and his 3-pointer hit the back of the rim and fell harmlessly to the floor.
The Cardinals missed seven free throw attempts over the two overtimes and 15 for the game, a season-high.
“The two teams really fought hard,” Ball State head coach James Whitford said. “I thought Eastern really came ready to play, and I give them great credit. We weren’t our best, particularly to start the game, but I thought our effort and toughness down the stretch was great. We fought. We put ourselves in position to win; we just couldn’t quite get over the line.”
Eastern Michigan led throughout much of the first half thanks to hitting its first five 3-point attempts. After the Eagles stretched the lead to 29-21, Ball State slowly started to find its footing against the EMU zone. A Zach Gunn 3-pointer a second before the halftime buzzer cut the deficit to two points, 34-32.
Ball State put together a 10-0 run midway through the second half to jump out in front, 47-40. The Cardinals held off the Eagles for the rest of regulation until Minnie’s 3-pointer in the final seconds. Taylor Persons, who hit three game-winning shots a year ago, missed a 3-pointer at the horn.
Tahjai Teague led all players with a career-high 28 points and scored 10 straight for Ball State during one stretch in the second half. Trey Moses scored his 1,000th career point in the first half and finished with 16 on the night.
Teague (28 points, 14 rebounds) and Moses (16 points, 10 assists) both posted double-doubles. It was the first career points/assists double-double for Moses, who owns 20 of the points/rebounds variety in his career.
Persons added eight assists for the Cardinals, who assisted on 23 of their 29 makes in the game and recorded 22 of them on their first 24 field goals.
Minnie netted a personal-best six 3-pointers on the way to posting a team-high 25 points for EMU. Three other Eagles finished in double figures, including James Thompson IV with his fifth double-double of the season (18 points, 19 rebounds). Both players were preseason All-MAC West Division selections.
Ball State is back in action this Saturday, Jan. 12, with another home game in Worthen Arena against Ohio. The game will air on ESPN+ at noon.
(Courtesy of EMU Athletics)
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