The West Division-leading Ball State Cardinals were picked apart by the Buffalo Bulls tonight at home, losing by 27.
Ball State won the tip and immediately converted for three. CJ Massinburg’s shot for Buffalo was blocked and Franko House put two up before scoring again. Two minutes in, David Kadiri got the Bulls on the board, and Blake Hamilton assisted Kadiri for two more. Hamilton himself drew Buffalo within one soon after.
Franko House was fouled on a made layup, and gave himself one more point from the stripe to reassert the Cardinals, but Dontay Caruthers scored off a steal near the 15-minute mark. Ball State led 14-10 at the first media timeout, but the Bulls clawed back to 16-all by the next timeout after an Ikenna Smart dunk.
The Bulls took the lead after Nick Perkins was fouled on a successful layup and converted his free throw. A Perkins 3-pointer extended the lead to five, but Tayler Persons eventually got the Cardinals back on top.
At 7:30 left in the fist, Buffalo led 27-25. A pair of Willie Conner free throws made the lead four.
CJ Massinburg hit from three to give the Buffalo offense some more life and extend the lead to six at just over six and a half minutes left in the first. Franko House added two for the Cardinals on their next attack. Blake Hamilton replied with three more for the Bulls after getting the assist on Massinburg’s shot. The Cardinals took a timeout at 5:38, down seven.
Swift offensive play paid off for the Cardinals after the timeout as Ryan Weber hit a three and forced Nate Oates and the Bulls to call a timeout. Two House free throws made it 35-33, as the Cardinals inched back, only to be rebuffed by another Perkins three.
Perkins would hit later within three minutes of the half to make it 42-33, Buffalo. The Bulls led 44-38 at the half.
Foul trouble plagued the Bulls early in the second half, as Ikenna Smart picked up his fourth foul four minutes in with Buffalo leading by 11. Two Perkins free throws bumped the lead to 13, but Sean Sellers gave the Cardinals some life, but an offensive foul gave the Bulls the ball back up ten, which CJ Massinburg used to strike from downtown. Another Massinburg three made the Buffalo lead 14. Two missed free throws from Trey Moses didn’t help matters for the Cardinals, nor did Willie Conner’s three.
The final ten minutes of the second half were unremarkable, as Buffalo had pulled away to an early enough lead to put the game out of sight for the Cardinals, and the Bulls kept pounding to win 96-69.
The Bulls were led in scoring by Blake Hamilton’s 25 points, while Franko House’s career-high 24 points led the Cardinals.
Buffalo improves to 12-11 overall and 5-5 in the MAC, while Ball State drops to 15-8 overall and 6-4 in conference. The Bulls are next in action February 7 at home against Northern Illinois, while the Cardinals are at Akron the same day.