The junior made his first nine shots from the floor, four of them from 3-point range, on his way to a career-high 26 points. His big night, coupled with a strong all-around team performance, helped the Cardinals to a 74-64 road win at Western Michigan.
“Certainly Ryan’s effort was incredible on the offensive end, but what won the game . . .
Western Michigan entered the game as one of the top rebounding teams in the Mid-American Conference, but Ball State won the battle on the glass 35-29. The Cardinals (11-5, 2-1 MAC) also limited the Broncos (6-10, 0-3 MAC) to 36.5 percent shooting. Their top scorers, Thomas Wilder and Tucker Haymond, combined for 35 points but did it on 9-for-26 shooting.
Franko House (15 points) and Jeremie Tyler (11) joined Weber in double figures for Ball State, while Naiel Smith handed out a game-high seven assists. The Cardinals recorded 22 assists on 28 made baskets.
The big stretch for Ball State was a 14-2 run that spanned the first and second halves. The Cardinals scored the final seven points of the first half and seven of the first nine in the second to turn a one-point game into a 40-27 lead.
Three consecutive 3-pointers, one from Bo Calhoun and two from Weber, pushed the lead to its largest margin at 49-30 less than five minutes into the second half.
Western Michigan refused to go away, fighting back over the next eight minutes to pull as close as six points at 60-54 with just over seven minutes to play. House then scored the next four points to thwart the rally, and Ball State maintained control the rest of the way.
“We knew Western Michigan would make a run somewhere along the way, and they certainly did,” Whitford said. “They upped the intensity to a really high level, but I thought in those heated moments our guys really answered the bell and played with poise.”
Weber finished his night 10 for 12 from the floor. Dating back to the end of the previous game, he made 10 consecutive shots, coming within three of Clement Murrell’s school record of 13 consecutive makes.
Ball State had its best team shooting night of the season, connecting on 51.9 percent, including 58.3 percent (14 for 24) in the second half. House was 6 for 7 from the floor, combining with Weber to go 16 for 19.
The Cardinals’ hot shooting helped them overcome a serious deficit at the free throw line. Western Michigan was 21 for 29 from the stripe, while Ball State was 8 for 13.
NEXT: Ball State hosts Miami (2 p.m. ET Saturday). Western Michigan entertains Northern Illinois (7 p.m. ET Saturday).