Twenty wins and a postseason victory. That's the story of the 2015-16 Ball State Cardinals. So far.
Ball State (20-13) moves on to the second round of the CIT after outlasting Tennessee State (20-11)78-73 on Tuesday night. The win is the 20th of the season for the Cardinals, the school's most since a 23-12 effort 2002. It's Ball State's first postseason victory in 14 seasons.
BSU's season looked to be coming to a close in the first half. The Cardinals fell behind by as many 17, and entered halftime trailing 27-14. A furious second half comeback complete with timely shooting and a stout defensive effort forced overtime. A Tennessee State three-pointer with six seconds remaining in the first overtime forced double OT before the Cardinals outscored the Tigers 14-9 in the second extra period.
Ryan Weber and Jeremie Tyler were deadly from behind the arc for the Cardinals, combining to shoot 11-18 from three-point range. Tyler lead Ball State with 25 and Weber poured in 20. However the standout effort arguably came from Trey Moses. In 37 minutes the freshman chipped in 13 points and pulled down a game high 13 rebounds. Moses provided a formidable presence underneath, particularly after Franko House fouled out early in the first overtime.
Keron Deshields led the way for Tennessee State in the loss. Deshields played 46 minutes, scoring 25 including 5 of 8 from three. Wayne Martin, the frontcourt leader for the Tigers struggled on Tuesday. The power forward connected on just 4 of 15 shots and was forced into a season high 6 turnovers.
The Cardinals outrebounded the Tigers by a 51-34 margin on Tuesday night. Tennessee State won the turnover battle 31-18. Those 31 Ball State turnovers are the most the Cardinals have coughed up all year.
Figuring out who Ball State plays next is the hardest question since explaining why Michigan and not Monmouth was invited to the NCAA Tournament. The CIT does not utilize a bracket and future opponents are determined only after games are completed. Interested in knowing who has survived and advanced in the CIT? Check out the details here.