The victory, five days after wiping out a 20-3 deficit at Tennessee State to claim a 78-73 win in double overtime, advanced Ball State to a quarterfinal matchup at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Columbia. The Lions received a bye in the second round of the CIT.
“This is an unbelievable win,” Cardinals coach James Whitford said. “We have a knack for playing for 40 minutes, and this is why you do. It was a great ending for us. You never give up. You keep fighting.”
The hosting Cardinals (23-13) were down by 11 points (71-6) after Alex Anderson hit two free throws for the SkyHhawks with 1:56 remaining in regulation.
BSU missed two shots but managed to come up with offensive rebounds. Ryan Weber finally hit a trey with 1:32 left to kick off a critical run.
A pair of Bo Calhoun free throws . . .
Two Sean Sellers free throws with 18 ticks left pulled the Cardinals within two at 71-69. After Jeremie Tyler steal, House scored on another layup to knot the score at 71-all. Eight seconds remained but neither team was able to score.
Ball State got to the line twice more, making both ends -- first through Sellers at 0:53 for the lead and then off a pair of House tosses to make it a three-point Cardinals advantage.
The visitors had 10 seconds left and got the ball to Edwards, but his 3-point try was off the mark and House grabbed the rebound.
House, who was a key factor down the stretch registered a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds.
Sellers and Calhoun led Ball State scoring with 17 points apiece, and Calhoun owned 12 rebounds. Freshman Trey Moses netted 12 ponits.
Howard, a 6-6 senior forward averaging 15.2 ppg, had a big night with 26 markers on the evening. Edwards scored 18 and Anderson chipped in 16 for the visitors.
UT-M shot 45 for the game to 39.1 percent for Ball State. But both teams had 10 turnovers, 27 field goals and 19 free throws.
The difference came in two main areas: Ball State held a big 49-32 advantage in rebounds. It also had three more treys (10-of-34 for BSU and 7-of-19 for UT-M).
UT Martin had an 18-15 edge in rebounding in the first half, but the Cardinals had a 34-14 advantage in the final 25 minutes. Ball State’s 17 offensive rebounds, its second-highest total of the season, led to a 25-6 edge in second-chance points.
“The fact we outrebounded them by 17 is amazing,” Whitford said. “We’ve improved a lot from November to now,” he said. “There’s a lot to be said about having that will to win and dig into it at a deeper level. I would love for us not to have to dig in as much as we do, but I’m glad we have that gear when we need it.”