An 8-0 home game winning streak came to a disappointing end for the Eastern Michigan Eagles after they lost against the Ball State Cardinals Wednesday in the Eagles’ Mid-American Conference opener with a final of 60-59 in overtime.
With fewer than 30 seconds left in overtime, Mike Talley (G) drove to the paint, scoring a tough layup that would give the Eagles a 59-57 lead. Unfortunately, the Cardinals answered back down the stretch when forward Sean Sellers knocked down a wide open 3-pointer, giving Ball State a 1-point lead (60-59) with 15 seconds left on the clock.
After a 30-second timeout, Eastern put up three shot attempts within the last 15 seconds of the game, failing to score within the last seconds caused the Cardinals to snatch a one point win from the Eagles.
“Despite their [Ball State] record, they’re a tough basketball team and they came in here to win, so I give them credit,” Rob Murphy said during the press conference. “Moving forward, we have to find a way to make [good] plays, step up and make free-throws, and step up and make open shots. When you don’t do that consistently, you don’t win basketball games.”
The Eagles struggled with scoring in the first half with a 26.8 field goal percentage and a 15.4 percentage from three, causing Ball State to maintain a lead.
Late in the first half the Eagles found a spark of momentum, gaining a lead of 16-15 with seven minutes left on the clock. But the Cardinals fought back, dropping three major shots that put them in the lead of 20-22 at the end of the half.
“We didn’t get off to a good start, especially offensively,” Murphy said. “I thought we had some missed cues early like turning the ball over the first play(s) of the game. We settled for too many three-point shots, which is something we shouldn’t do.
The Eagles approach on the court increased during the second half, giving them the largest lead of the night, 32-23. Karrington Ward (F) started the half showering down a shot from downtown and dropping two impressive back-to-back dunks.
Ward managed another double-double for the fourth time this season with 15 points and 10 rebounds in addition to two blocks and two steals. Raven Lee (G) scored a game high of 16 points while Jodan Price (G/F) had 10 points and Mike Samuels (C) with eight points and 11 rebounds.
While having an increasing momentum during the second half with a nine-point lead, the Cardinals began to fight back down the other end, dropping Eastern’s lead to down to four points (32-28) with fewer than 10 minutes remaining in the half.
Eastern continued to maintain its lead, but the Cardinals managed to give the Eagles a challenge offensively and defensively. With fewer than 10 seconds left in the second half, the Cardinals tied the game at 50 even.
After a tough fight with trading buckets during overtime, Eastern couldn’t find the luck to come up with a win after Ball State’s Sean Seller dropped a sickening 3-point winning shot, giving the Cardinals a 1-point game victory.
On Jan. 10, EMU’s men’s basketball team will hit the road and continue on to Oxford, Ohio, facing the Miami University Redhawks. The game starts Saturday at 5:30 p.m. and can be heard on WEMU Radio.