BALL STATE 89, UMASS 86
LITTLE ROCK 67, NORTHERN ILLINOIS 60
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Ball State came back from a nine-point deficit early for an 89-86 victory over UMass Sunday at the McArthur Center on the final day of the Jersey Mike's Classic. Tyler Cochran led the Cardinals with a 20-point performance as a total of four players finished in double-digit points for the second-straight game.
After the two teams traded opening baskets, UMass went on an 11-2 run and gained an 11-4 advantage just three minutes into the game. The Cardinals were resilient, however, and produced an 11-2 run of their own to take a 15-13 lead with 14:04 left in the first half.
After UMass tied the game at 20-20 with 11:58 left in the half, Luke Bumbalough knocked down a 3-pointer to put the Cardinals up three. The Minutemen scored the game's next eight points and took a 28-23 lead with just over 10 minutes left in the first.
Payton Sparks converted on two free-throw attempts and pulled BSU within three, 28-25. Sparks added a layup as he scored four consecutive points for the Cardinals.
After the Minutemen made a free throw to go up 32-27, the Cardinals battled back and tied the game at 34-34 with just over five minutes left in the half. After a 3-pointer by UMass, Mickey Pearson Jr. scored the game's next four points and gave BSU a 38-37 lead with three minutes left in the first half. Cochran converted a second-chance layup and put Ball State up 40-37.
The Cardinals ended the half on a 7-4 run to take a 47-41 lead into the locker room.
Ball State came out with the same intensity to start the second half, as Cochran converted an and-1 opportunity and put the Cardinals up 50-41. After UMass made a free throw, Demarius Jacobs drained a 3-pointer to extend the BSU lead to 11.
Ball State started to get hot from behind the arc as Cochran and Miryne Thomas got in on the action with a 3-pointer each. During the opening four minutes of the second half, the Cardinals went 4-for-4.
With just over 14 minutes left in regulation, BSU converted on a four-point swing that came from two free throws from Jalen Windham and two free throws from Cochran after a shooting foul and a technical.
The Cardinals continued to extend their lead, reaching as high as 17 points, 77-60, with 10:45 left in regulation.
UMass went on a 14-4 run that ended at 6:19, which allowed the Minutemen to pull within seven, 81-74. UMass managed to pull within one, 87-86, with 32 seconds left in the game. Ball State, however, tightened the defense and made key free throws to secure an 89-86 victory.
Cochran finished with his best performance in a Ball State jersey with 22 points on 7-for-8 shooting from the field. Cochran tied with Sparks for the team lead in rebounds with eight. Bumbalough finished with 14 points with a 3-for-4 performance from 3-point range. Windham recorded his third-straight game in double figures with 13 points while shooting a perfect 5-for-5 from the free-throw line.
Pearson has recorded back-to-back games with 12 points as he was the fourth player with double digits. Pearson added the team's only block of the game. Jacobs and Cochran tied for the team lead with four assists. Bumbalough and Cochran each had two steals to lead the team.
As a team, the Cardinals shot 56.3 percent from 3-point range and 50.9 percent from the field. Ball State improved its season average at the free-throw line with an 81.3 percent performance. BSU outrebounded UMass 38-34. The Ball State bench came up big with 31 points to the UMass bench's 21. The Cardinals held a slim 34-32 edge in points in the paint.
The Minutemen were led by Trent Buttrick and CJ Kelly with 19 points each. Rich Kelly and Dyondre Dominguez added 10 points each. TJ Weeks Jr. led UMass with eight rebounds.
With the victory, the Cardinals improved to 2-3 on the year, while the Minutemen fell to 3-3. Ball State returns to Worthen Arena on Saturday, Nov. 27, for an in-state battle with Indiana State. Tip is scheduled for 1 p.m.
LITTLE ROCK 67, NORTHERN ILLINOIS 60
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Trailing by 25 points with 8:45 to play, the Northern Illinois Huskies staged a furious comeback that included a 17-0 run, before running out of time and falling to the Little Rock Trojans, 67-60 in their final game at the Jacksonville Classic, presented by Fabletics.
The Huskies (1-4) trailed 54-29 with 9:36 on the clock when Trendon Hankerson scored his first basket of the game, a three-point shot, that was answered by Little Rock's Nikola Maric to extend the Trojans' lead back to 25 at 57-32.
From that point, the Huskies ran off 17 consecutive points and outscored UALR 36-17 in the final 12 minutes of the game. First, Hankerson fed Zool Kueth for the first of his four three-pointers. Montavious Myrick scored in the paint and Hankerson hit from three to cut the lead to 17. Freshman Zion Russell made a pair of free throws and Kaleb Thornton connected on a three off a Myrick steal as the lead was cut to 57-45.
Hankerson made a steal – one of a team-leading three in the game – and fed Kueth for a triple and NIU was within double digits for the first time since the 5:37 mark of the first half. A Hankerson free throw cut the lead to eight before the Trojans' DeAntoni Gordon made a pair of three throws with 2:08 to play to push the margin back to 10.
The Huskies continued to pressure Little Rock. A third Kueth three trimmed the margin to seven again at 59-52 with 1:10 to play before the Trojans' D.J. Smith hit a pair of free throws.
Kueth's fourth and final three of the game - he finished the game 4-of-8 from long range – came after UALR hit two more free throws and cut the lead to six with 47 seconds to play. Four straight made free throws sandwiched around a Huskie turnover sealed the win for Little Rock at the :29 second mark, with Thornton scoring the last of his team-leading 15 points on a layup with 25 seconds left to trim the lead back to eight at 65-57.
NIU fouled twice more and nearly forced a pair of turnovers – one off an inbounds play and another on a five-second call in the final seconds, but UALR made two of four free throws to reach 67 points. Their last 10 points came at the line, where the Trojans' shot 18-of-25 for the game. NIU's Manuel made three free throws when he was fouled on a three with one second remaining for the final margin.
Thornton made 5-of-8 shots from the field, including 3-of-3 from three en route to his team-leading 15 points, and had four assists. Hankerson scored all 10 of his points in the final nine minutes and added three steals and three assists, while Kueth's 12 points were a season high. Kingsley Okanu led NIU on the boards with seven.
NIU shot 46.2 percent from the field in the second half, including 9-of-18 from three-point range after making just six field goals and scoring 18 points in the first half.
Following a road game at Marquette on November 27, the Huskies will play their first regular season home game of 2021-22 on Wednesday, December 1 versus Eastern Illinois