By: Chirp City Staff | @bsusportslink
Ball State Sports Link
BOWLING GREEN, Ohio — Ball State men’s basketball coach James Whitford wasn’t shy in expressing how impressed he was with Tuesday’s 72-64 win at Bowling Green.
“Today was the best win since I’ve been the head coach at Ball State,” Whitford said after his team’s third Mid-American Conference road win in its last four tries.
That’s saying something considering the Cardinals knocked off a Valparaiso team rated among the top 30 in the country earlier this season.
But Whitford was truly referring to the way his team won, overcoming a 14-point deficit in the second half by doing all the things that matter.
“Our culture was completely in place,” Whitford said. “We were diving on the floor for loose balls. The entire bench was up and into the game. That’s what good teams and programs have. Without it, we don’t get the win.”
Another big reason the Cardinals (14-8, 5-4 MAC) won the game was because they held Bowling Green to 4 for 22 shooting in the second half and outscored the Falcons 39-24 after the break.
Ball State trailed 47-33 with 15 minutes to play and had not made a shot in nearly 10 minutes. It didn’t look promising at that point, but a Ryan Weber 3-pointer took the lid off, and the Cardinals chipped away over the next 10 minutes.
Franko House tied the game at 62 with 3:44 to play, and Francis Kiapway scored the next bucket to give the Cardinals their first lead of the second half at the 3:05 mark. They never trailed again. Ball State held Bowling Green (13-9, 4-5 MAC) scoreless on its final five possessions and sealed the win at the free throw line.
“It didn’t look good for us for a long time,” Whitford said. “It felt like the game was slipping away, but we showed a real toughness and a real grit in hanging in there and fighting as hard as we did despite adversity. We won the game because our defense in the second half was incredible. I told the team in the locker room I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
The Cardinals host Western Michigan at 2 p.m. Saturday in the second meeting between the teams this season. BSU won last month in Kalamazoo, Mich.