Ball State senior guard Jauwan Scaife scored a game-high 21 points Sunday, but it wasn’t enough to lift the Cardinals to a win over in-state rival IUPUI, as the Jaguars won 77-68 at Worthen Arena.
The Cardinals’ 3-point defense had been a strength recently with Ball State (5-6) holding its previous six opponents to a combined 25 percent from beyond the arc. However, IUPUI (5-10) knocked down 11-of-22 from deep, including six 3-pointers from Sean Esposito.
Esposito, who entered the game shooting just 20 percent from long range, led four Jaguars in double-figure scoring with 20 points.
Ball State’s Chris Bond scored 10 points and pulled down eight rebounds, while Tyler Koch added 10 points and grabbed seven boards in his most extensive action since returning to the lineup from injury.
Scaife finished 8-of-14 from the floor and Ball State shot 48 percent as a team.
The Cardinals outscored IUPUI by a 40-20 margin in the paint and held a 33-24 advantage on the boards. But the Cardinals turned the ball over 17 times and struggled to defend the Jaguars on the other end.
“We did some good things in transition and we attacked the paint, which was part of our gameplan,” Ball State coach Billy Taylor said in a release. “But with 17 turnovers, we just weren’t unselfish enough on dribble penetration to make the extra pass. We held onto the ball too long and made some poor decisions.”
IUPUI was hot from the beginning, knocking down seven of its first eight shots from the floor and seven of its first 10 attempts from 3-point range. Jordan Shanklin’s 3-pointer with 8:28 to play in the first half gave the Jaguars a 30-17 lead. The Cardinals closed the half strong and whittled the margin down to 38-32 at the break.
The Jaguars opened their lead back up before Ball State rallied midway through the second half. With the Cardinals trailing 57-44, Marcus Posley nailed a 3-pointer to start a 12-2 run. Tyler Koch’s lay-in with 8:16 to play capped the run and trimmed IUPUI’s lead to 59-56, forcing a Jaguar timeout.
The Cardinals could not pick up any more ground. Minutes later Esposito’s fifth trey of the day extended the IUPUI lead back to 64-57, and his sixth 3-pointer moments later pushed the Jaguars’ advantage to 67-59 with three minutes left. From there, the Cardinals could pull no closer than six points.
“We just weren’t strong enough guarding the ball and contesting shooters today,” Taylor said. “We gave up too many comfortable looks at the basket.”
John Hart scored 14 points and led IUPUI with seven rebounds. Lyonell Gaines finished with 13 points, and Marcellus Barksdale added 11 for the Jaguars.
Ball State will host Norfolk State on Jan. 2.