A close game entering the final minutes turned into Ball State’s largest victory margin of the season Saturday at Miami University.
The Cardinals pulled away for an 82-62 road win in Mid-American Conference men’s basketball action at Millett Hall.
Ball State placed four scorers in double figures on their way to a season high point total. Majok Majok led all players with 21 points and eight rebounds, while Jesse Berry poured in 20 points and knocked down a career-best six 3-pointers.
Chris Bond stuffed the stat sheet with 16 points, seven rebounds, four assists and five steals, while Jauwan Scaife added 14 points and dished out a career-high seven assists.
Ball State (8-10, 2-4 MAC) found success breaking Miami’s full-court press and managed to score both in transition and in its half-court offense, shooting nearly 58 percent from the floor to snap a four-game losing streak in a big way.
On the defensive end, the Cardinals limited Miami (7-11, 2-4 MAC) to one-shot possessions for the majority of the game. Ball State held a dominant 37-17 advantage on the glass, out-rebounding its sixth straight opponent to begin MAC play.
“It was really fulfilling as a coach to see us click on so many different levels,” Ball State coach Billy Taylor said in a release. “I thought we were terrific defensively. We did a great job rebounding, collectively going to get the basketball. To have such a huge rebounding margin on the road is uncommon. That allowed us to get out in transition and we were able to play at a pretty fast tempo today.”
Through more than 34 minutes of play, Ball State and Miami were locked in a tight game just like all five of the Cardinals’ previous league games. But with 5:32 to play and Ball State holding a 58-54 lead, Scaife found Bond for a lay-in that ignited a run to put the game away.
The basket was the first of 12 unanswered points, the first eight of which came from Bond. The last four came from Majok, including a dunk on a pass from Bond, as Ball State extended its lead to 70-54. That 12-0 run, which also featured two Bond steals, came in a span of less than three minutes to put the game out of reach.
“Chris Bond is a guy who is a tremendous on-the-ball defender for us,” Taylor said. “He does a great job in the gaps. We were able to get a number of deflections that led to run-outs, and that’s big on the road, to find a way to get easy points. We knew we were going to have to continue to score because Miami plays at such a fast tempo.”
The Cardinals extended their lead to as many as 22 late in the game on Berry’s sixth 3-pointer of the day in the final minute.
It capped a big day for the junior guard, who knocked down four of his treys in the first half. His early shooting helped propel the Cardinals to a 34-29 lead at the break.
Ball State then sank 68 percent of its second-half shots (17 of 25) as it worked the ball into the lane, which was freed up by its successful outside shooting in the first half. The Cardinals finished the game with a 42-30 advantage in the paint.
Three Miami players finished in double figures, led by Will Felder with 14 points. Quinten Rollins scored 12 and Reggie Johnson added 10 for the RedHawks.
Ball State will now return home to host MAC West foe Toledo for a 7 p.m. tipoff Wednesday at Worthen Arena. The Cardinals will play three of their next four at home.