The back-and-forth contest featured 19 ties and 18 lead changes. Neither team led by more than four points after halftime until the final seconds of overtime. Tayler Persons' driving lay-in with 47 seconds left in the extra period put Ball State ahead for good, and the Cardinals sealed the game at the foul line.
Ball State head coach James Whitford was . . .
The Cardinals (6-4) were without Tahjai Teague, who is working through the concussion protocol after taking a hit in practice this week. Francis Kiapway was again limited, while Franko House suffered through foul trouble before eventually fouling out. Those things combined resulted in five Ball State players seeing action for at least 37 of the game's 45 minutes.
A pair of sophomores continued their impressive play as the Cardinals snapped a four-game winning streak for Eastern Kentucky (6-5). Persons scored 21 points and handed out nine assists, while center Trey Moses notched a career-high for the second straight game with 18 points to go with 14 rebounds.
Sellers matched his career-best with seven 3-pointers, one shy of the school record, hitting 7 of 10 from beyond the arc and 10 of 14 overall. The importance of his shots was magnified because the Cardinals were limited on their play card by the injuries and foul trouble.
"It was a huge help," Whitford said. "We had so many guys out of position tonight. I didn't feel like we were able to run much offense, and Sean was really able to stretch them out and score some big baskets that we needed."
After leading much of the first half, Ball State found itself in a seven-point hole with 2:17 to play before halftime. But the Cardinals used a 9-0 run spanning the two halves to erase the gap, taking the lead again after five straight points from Sellers to open the second half.
From there, the teams seemed to trade baskets virtually the rest of the way. Persons had a chance to put Ball State ahead with :04 seconds left in regulation but missed a pair of free throws.
That didn't seem to bother him in the overtime period. Persons, Sellers and Moses combined to score all 13 of the Cardinals points in the final five minutes.
Asante Gist led Eastern Kentucky with 19 points, while Nick Mayo scored 17 and Dillon Avare 15.
The Colonels entered the game having out-rebounded each of their past six opponents, but Ball State held a 47-36 advantage on the boards.
"For us to dominate the glass like we did was a heck of a stat, especially on the defensive end," Whitford said. "That's a thing that's been driving me crazy. We've been giving up too many offensive rebounds, and tonight we didn't."
Saturday marked the end of a busy opening stretch in which Ball State played 10 games in 30 days. The Cardinals will now have eight days away from competition for final exams before returning to action Dec. 19 with a 7 p.m. tipoff against Longwood at Worthen Arena.
(Courtesy of BSU Athletics)