Eastern handed the Cardinals (7-21, 2-15 MAC) their 15th-straight loss in the Tuesday night contest, and the victory ensured that head coach Rob Murphy would keep an unblemished 4-0 record when coaching at Worthen E. Arena.
Raven Lee led the Eagles in scoring with 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting, while Mike Talley added 16, including a perfect 9-for-9 from the game< He added a career-high six steals to go along with five assists. The six steals tied for the fourth-most in a single game in EMU history.
Karrington Ward recorded 12 points and a team-best six rebounds. Anali Okoloji poured in eight points, while Tim Bond added six. As a team, the Eagles shot 47.8 percent from the floor (22-of-46) while hitting 40 percent of their three-point attempts (6-of-15).
Eastern cashed in from the free throw line, hitting on 94.4 percent of their attempts (17-of-18). Defensively, the Green and White swiped the ball 13 times, while turning the Cardinals over on 17 occasions.
Franko House and Bo Calhoun led Ball State in scoring with 13 points apiece, while Sean Sellers added 10. Calhoun grabbed a team-best seven rebounds, while four other Cardinals added five boards.
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The Eagles started off slow, allowing Ball State to jump out to an 8-2 lead early before Lee converted on the old fashioned three-point play. Eastern Michigan scored seven of the next eight points, grabbing a three-point, 12-9, advantage with 12:24 left in the game.
After going back and forth with the Cardinals, the Eagles extended their lead to seven with 10:48 remaining.
The Green and White saw Ward score four-straight for Eastern to give EMU its first double-digit lead with just over five minutes left in the half. Through the remainder of the half, the Eagles tallied nine more points, including a rare four-point play from Talley. The Cardinals, however, stayed close, scoring eight over the last five minutes and headed into the break with an 11-point, 35-24, lead.
The Eagles had very balanced scoring in the first half with five student-athletes scoring six-or-more points in the opening half. Ward led the way, scoring seven on 3-of-6 from the floor. Bond, Lee, Okoloji and Talley each had six. As a team, the Green and White shot 50 percent from the floor, knocking down 14-of-28 shot attempts in the opening 20 minutes.
EMU dominated on the inside, outscoring the Cardinals, 25-6, on the inside. On the defensive end, Eastern Michigan forced nine Cardinal turnovers, grabbing eight steals in the half. Talley had five of those eight steals and also dished out three assists.
Eastern held Ball State to just 30.4 percent shooting for the first half, while the Cardinals knocked down 25 percent of their three-point shot opportunities. House and Francis Kiapway each recorded seven points to lead BSU.
Ball State began the second half with a 5-0 run as House hit a jumper and converted on a layup, while Sellers hit 1-of-2 free throws. The Eagles extended their lead back to eight before another four-straight points brought the Cardinals to within four, 37-33, with 14:32 left in the game.
Lee rattled off seven points in a row to put the Eagles back on top by 11, 44-33, with just over 12 minutes left in the game. EMU and Ball State then traded blows before Ward knocked down a triple with 8:27 on the clock to give the Green and White their largest lead of the game at 14 (53-39).
With a 59-45 lead at the 4:15 mark, the Cardinals went on a 10-0 run to bring the game within four, 59-55, at the one minute mark.
Talley knocked down a pair to push the lead back to six. However, the Cardinals weren't ready to go away. Seller knocked down a three-pointer in the ensuing possession to make it a 61-58 EMU advantage. The Eagles then used free throws to ice the game down the stretch.
The Eagles return back to Ypsilanti for the final time in the regular season Friday Toledo comes to the Convocation Center (7 p.m. ET). Ball State finishes at home against Northern Illinois (7 p.m. ET).