MUNCIE, Ind. — The Ball State men’s basketball team celebrated 25 years of Worthen Arena Saturday afternoon by defeating rival Western Michigan 84-78 to maintain a share of the top spot in the league’s West Division.
With the win, the Cardinals improved to 14-7 overall and 5-3 in the MAC, while Western Michigan fell to 6-14 for the year and 2-6 in league play.
“I thought it was a good win,” Ball State coach James Whitford said. “Every game in our league is hard. I expected a hard game, and we got one.”
Ball State shot a season best 58.3 percent from the floor and knocked down 9 of 16 from 3-point range (56.3 percent). Western Michigan had a good offensive day, as well, hitting 50 percent from the floor.
The Cardinals featured a well-rounded attack again and had 24 points off the bench, led by Sellers’ 12.
Ball State led by 10 at the break, but Western Michigan used an 8-0 run to cut it to 46-42 early in the second half. The Cardinals retaliated with their own 8-0 run, capped by a Sellers 3, to go back up by 14 at 59-45.
“When they cut it to four, we talked about trying to get our pace back,” Whitford said. “We had three or four plays in transition that kind of opened it back up for us, and that was the difference in the game.”
But Western Michigan wouldn’t go away quietly. The Broncos continued to slowly chip away at the Cardinals’ lead, eventually coming to within two, 74-72, with 3:10 left in the game.
It was a 79-76 lead with 30 seconds left when House knocked down two free throws to put Ball State back up by five. The Cardinals were then able to finish it off at the foul line. They’ve been the best in MAC play from the charity stripe and knocked down 19 of 25 today.
Persons scored 14 of his points in the first half when Ball State knocked down 17 of 29 as a team on the way to building its lead.
“I thought especially in the first half, he was great,” Whitford said. “Sometimes he used a pick-and-roll and got someone else involved, sometimes he was able to attack their bigs, and sometimes he gave it up early and kept the ball flying. I thought we were great on offense in the first half, and a lot of that had to do with him.”
Ball State won for the fifth time in six games and improved to 8-3 at home this year as the Cardinals celebrated 25 Years in Worthen Arena. A strong crowd turned out and included a large number of former Ball State basketball players on their alumni weekend.
“Ball State has great tradition, and it means a lot to a lot of people,” Whitford said. “Being able to reconnect those bonds to the pride of Ball State basketball is really important. It was great to have a great crowd today.”
Saturday’s game was the first of three straight at home for Ball State, which will host Toledo at 7 p.m. Tuesday and Buffalo at 9 p.m. Friday.
Story originally published on www.ballstatesports.com.