MUNCIE, Ind -- In two meetings between Miami and Ball State at Worthen Arena this year, neither team has cracked the 50-point mark. It’s the kind of scoring that gives the 2015-16 RedHawks their best chance to win, and while it didn’t work out in the first meeting, it did Monday night. Now, it will be 11th seeded Miami heading to Cleveland for Thursday’s MAC Tournament quarterfinal action.
Point guard Eric Washington converted two free throws with 3.2 seconds left and a long three by Ball State missed the mark as Miami held on for a 49-47 win Monday.
The two-point win was . . .
Once again, Miami took an early lead Monday. The visitors were up 27-22 at intermission and expanded their advantage to 10 points at 37-27 following a Rod Mills trey at 15:12.
Once again, however, Ball State mounted a comeback. An 11-2 run brought the hosts within one at 39-38 after Sean Sellers’ basket at 7: 53. Baskets by Wright and Bryant gave MU a five-point lead before Ball State again whittled the lead away. Senior Franko House was the catalyst, scoring six points down the stretch as BSU finally caught Miami at 47-all with 32 seconds left.
The RedHawks were working the clock when Washington drew a foul by Francis Kiapway. The 5-10 senior hit both free throws to provide the winning margin.
"I'm just happy for these kids," Miami head coach John Cooper said. "They kept their wits about them. There was a point in the season when it would have been easy for these guys to cash it in, and they didn't."
Washington led Miami with 15 points and nine rebounds. Joining him in double figures was Bryant, who added 14 markers.
House was the only Cardinal to reach double figures in the low-scoring game. He netted 15 points and grabbed seven boards. Sellers added nine points to the cause, while Moses registered seven points and nine rebounds.
"There was a oint there when I was sorried because House was taking over the game," Cooper said.
Two areas proved troublesome for Ball State, a team that hit 18 threes in a 115-79 route of Eastern Michigan Feb. 27. The Cardinals have not won since that lopsided victory, and they went 3-for-23 from beyond the arc against Miami Tuesday. It was their worst production of the season from distance. They made 7-of-18 threes in the first meeting.
Ball State also didn’t help itself at the line, making only 8-of-15 (53.3%). Miami made 11-of-15, with the final two proving pivotal.
“We had a tough shooting night both from free throw line and the arc,” BSU head coach James Whitford said.
-- Whitford pointed to his team’s success this season and indicated the Cardinals should get another chance to play. “We had a good season, and we’re pretty confident our resume is going to put us in some type of postseason tournament,” Whitford said. “I say with confidence, based on how teams in our league have done, we should be in a tournament.”
-- MU (38.8%) and Ball State (37.5%) were very close in overall field goal percentage and just one field goal separated the two (MU 17) (BSU 18).
-- Cooper was particularly pleased with the RedHawks defense. "You hold them to 47 points, and (that) team is capable of putting 100, 80 or 90 points on the board with no problem. ... Our defense has really sustained us."
-- Rebounds were also nearly equal (BSU 18, MU 17).
-- Ball State commited nine turnovers, while Miami owned eight miscues.
-- BSU had five blocks in the game, while MU did not register a block.
-- The two teams have been trending in opposite directions as of late. Ball State lost its last two regular season games and three of four before falling to the RedHawks.
Miami has won four of its last five games, with the only loss being a two-point setback Friday to Ohio.