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Ball State Cardinals vs. Eastern Illinois Panthers Final: EIU Uses Late Run to Put Away Cards in Turner's Return, 61-54

The scoring exploded in the late phases of the game, as EIU used a late run and an efficient second half to make up for scoring just two points in the first nine minutes.

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Despite the return of defending MAC Freshman of the Year Zavier Turner, Ball State (2-3) was unable to hold off Eastern Illinois (3-5) in a high-scoring second half.

With 7:45 left, Ball State held a 38-34 lead that was quickly squashed by EIU with a 18-4 run over the course of the next 4-plus minutes to break the close game wide open. The run was dominated by EIU's ability to run efficient offensive sets, as the Panthers made three 3-pointers in the stretch, despite having just made one all game up to that point.

Despite a 10-point deficit with under three minutes left, the Cards came fighting back. A quick 5-0 spurt  by BSU got the score to 52-47. After four more EIU points brought the game back out to a nine point difference, BSU would only get back within five points once more before the game's end.

Turner lead all scorers with twenty, and came off the bench in his first game since Ball State's 101-62 home victory over IU-Kokomo. Jeremie Tyler was the only other Cardinal in double figures, finishing with ten points. Despite playing 36 minutes, freshman Sean Sellers failed to have a large impact in his first game in the starting rotation, finishing with just four points.

But, other than the high-scoring final minutes, the game was low scoring and dominated by Ball State in the early parts of the first half.

The Cards held the Panthers to just two points up until just after the 12-minute TV timeout. Despite jumping out to a 8-0 lead, the Ball State offense sputtered away the early opportunity to take control of the game, scoring just five more points before a 8-0 run by EIU brought the game back to 13-10.

Ball State would continue to be in front throughout the first half and held a 24-18 advantage at the break.

Ball State takes on in-state rival Indiana State this Saturday, while the Panthers will travel to California to take on UC-Davis on Tuesday.