MUNCIE — It took five years, but Ball State’s Zach Fields finally got something he always wanted: The center saw himself in the Cardinals starting lineup for the first time in his career.
Fields took advantage of the opportunity with 10 points and eight rebounds as Ball State (1-0) won 78-51 over Grambling State (0-2) in its season opener.
“It’s giving me goosebumps right now thinking about (the start),” Fields said. “This is five years coming. All the hard work has paid off, and I’ve never given up and it feels good.”
Fields was one of five Ball State players to score in double figures in the game. Jesse Berry led the team with 17 points as he shot 4-6 from three-point range. The new motion offense BSU is using this year allowed Berry to consistently find open spots behind the arc.
“A lot of passing, getting guys open, and like I said, sharing the ball,” Berry said. “We had 19 assists. Coach (Billy) Taylor has been preaching in practice about the turnovers and making the right reads in our offense and tonight I think we executed really good.”
Despite Berry’s solid night shooting, Ball State struggled to make baskets, especially in the first half. The Cardinals shot 36 percent from the field and 56 percent from the free-throw line in the first half. The misses allowed Grambling State to stay close and only trail by nine at the break.
After halftime, Chris Bond helped push Ball State out in front. Bond had a few steals as Ball State pulled away with an 18-5 run to begin the second half.
“I think Chris Bond set the tone in the second half with his defensive pressure on the ball the point guard,” Taylor said. “That allowed Jauwan Scaife to focus on (Tery) Rose and limit their three-point accuracy in the second half which allowed us to get out in transition.”
The Cardinals also got the first look at their eight newcomers on the roster, and they didn’t disappoint. Junior College transfer Majok Majok had a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds and freshman Marcus Posley had 12 points to go with six assists and no turnovers.
“I feel like for this being our first game, our chemistry is very good with the amount of new guys we have,” Fields said. “Majok being new, the freshmen being new, our chemistry is very good right now and we are understanding each other’s roles.”