Separated by 90 miles, the Ball State Cardinals and the Fort Wayne Mastodons have only met 4 times prior to tonight, with the Cardinals winning all 4. Well, they have met for scrimmages, too. This game certainly had a big brother, little brother feel. You know, they whole reason why we love March.
Tayler Persons kept the Cardinals in the game early, scoring the team’s first 10 points. After a Sean Sellers layup, and a Franko House turnaround jumper in the lane from 10, the Cardinals took their first lead of the game, 14-13, with 12:07 left in the first half.
The lead didn’t last long, as Xzavier Taylor knocked in a jumper 38 seconds later, which was followed up by a Brent Calhoun bucket.
The Cardinals then started to push the action, and went up by three on a Franko House traditional 3 point play.
Ryan Weber heated up from three, and the Cardinals took a 26-19 lead into the 6:43 media timeout.
Things were looking bleak for the Mastodons after a technical foul gave the Cardinals a couple free throws that put them up 10, but Fort Wayne showed heart, working the ball into John Konchar. He got a bucket the first time, and the bucket and foul the second time.
The Cardinals worked the ball inside out for threes, while the Mastodons just worked the ball inside, and the teams traded points, with Ball State creeping the lead up to 37-28.
Fort Wayne rallied a bit, and the score was 41-34 at the half.
Taylor Persons had 14 for the Cardinals, while Kason Harrell led the Mastodons with 9.
The teams were roughly even in shooting, rebounds and turnovers. Ball State had the edge in three pointers, and that was the difference in the first half.
The second half opened with a flurry of scoring, with the Mastodons getting the better of it. 4 minutes in, the Mastodons cut the lead to 49-45.
Bryson Scott exploded down the court after a Cardinals miss to make it a two point game. He failed the and one. I personally would have given it to him for how quickly he motored down the court, it was that impressive.
Ball State did what Ball State does, and responded with a Jeremie Taylor three.
After a ridiculous fade-away bank shot from the free throw line by Persons put the Cardinals up 59-52, Calhoun made a couple baskets to put the Mastodons within striking distance.
I guess it was his queue to take over the game, because his traditional three point play put the Mastodons down one, 63-62. A Bryson Scott three gave them their first lead since a little after midway of the first half.
Konchar hit a three of his own, and Fort Wayne was up 68-63 at the 7:28 media timeout.
Calhoun stretched the lead to 70-63 before Franko House hit a three to stop the bleeding.
Calhoun kept battling for the Mastodons, but Ball State was starting to click on offense, and a Tyler layup and three closed the gap, 75-73.
Tyler was hitting threes, but Fort Wayne was hitting, too, and a Mo Evans three put his team up 84-79 with 2:15 to go. After a Scott jumper, any wind left in the Cardinal’s sails seemed to disappear and the Mastodons were able to close out the win.
Mastodons 88, Cardinals 80
Us sports writers like to make basketball about a lot of things, and talk about a million nuances that affect a game. And they do, but at the end of the day, it’s about putting the ball in the basket. Fort Wayne shot 53% from the floor, while the Cardinals shot 43%.
Throw in the rebounding edge for the home team, and little brother beats big brother for the first time.
Brent Calhoun slung the Mastodons on his back, and scored 27 points, all that seemed to come at key times. Mo Evans added 15 and Bryson Scott 13.
Franko House finished his great career with 15 points. Ryan Weber finished his with 14. Sophomore Tayler Persons led the team with 18 points, and added 8 rebounds. Sophomore Tahjai Teague led the team with 10 rebounds, while adding 9 points. Junior Jeremie Tyler added 14, so the Cardinals will be in good hands in the future.