It was the sixth win for BSU in its last seven games and left the Cardinals atop the Mid-American Conference West Division.
“Tayler’s performance was . . .
Ball State (15-7, 6-3 MAC) struggled to get any shots to fall early, starting the game just 1 for 7 from the field. Meanwhile, the Rockets (11-11, 4-5 MAC) started the game red-hot, scoring on their first four possessions, to take a quick 10-0 lead.
The Cardinals, however, slowly worked their way back and were able to cut Toledo’s lead to just two points at halftime, trailing 46-44. Ball State had three players in double figures at the midway point: Persons (16), Tahjai Teague (11), and Franko House (10).
The Cardinals stepped up their defense in the second half, and a Persons old-school 3-point play tied the game at 48 with 17:45 remaining.
Toledo regained a seven-point lead, 61-54, before Ball State came storming back. The Cardinals went on 14-2 run to take a 68-63 advantage with 8:17 to play and never looked back.
Ball State led by as many as nine with 2:23 remaining in the game. Toledo connected on a trio of 3-pointers in the closing minutes to cut the lead to one, but the Cardinals held on for their third straight win.
“It was an exciting game,” Whitford said. “I thought our guys played with great energy in the second half.”
House finished with 19 points and nine rebounds, while Teague came off the bench to drop a career-high 16 points, shooting 6-of-7 from the field in just 10 minutes of action because of foul trouble.
Steve Taylor Jr. led Toledo with 23 points and 18 rebounds. Luke Knapke added 18 points, and Jaelan Sanford scored 15. Leading scorer Jonathan Williams did not play due to illness.
" was happy with the grit, toughness and togetherness we played with tonight,” Head Coach Tod Kowalczyk said. “We played well throughout, but their run midway through the second half was the key to the game. Steve Taylor Jr. wasn’t feeling well and he really came up big for us. Luke Knapke also had a big game for us, and he’s a player who is really coming on.”
In the paint, Ball State dropped 34 points and held Toledo to just 18. The Cardinals finished 31 of 71 (43.7 percent) from the field and 9 of 24 (37.5 percent) from beyond the arc.
The Cardinals will play at home again Friday with a 9 p.m. tipoff against Buffalo. Toledo is at rival Bowling Green (4 p.m. ET).
(Courtesy of BSU Athletics)