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Ball State Cardinals vs Western Michigan Broncos final: Cardinals suffocate Broncos in 74-64 victory

The Ball State Cardinals won their first road game of the year using solid defense en route to a 74-64 victory over the Western Michigan Broncos

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

They say defense wins championships.  Well the Ball State Cardinals might have one of the best in the MAC after they held the Western Michigan Broncos to a poor shooting night on the road.

The first half would've been all Cardinals, if not for a plethora of fouls.  Ball State got out to an early lead, and held it throughout the half, despite the Broncos cutting the lead to 1 at one point.  However, James Whitford's squad got to the half up 33-25 by holding Steve Hawkins' team to just 25% shooting from the floor, including a paltry 18% from beyond the arch.  Conversely, when the Cardinals weren't fouling or turning the ball over (7 in the half), they shot a solid 47% from the floor, hitting 31% of their threes.

However, they made sure to own the 2nd half.

Coming out on fire, Ball State hit 7 of their first 8 shots, including 5 threes to open up a 52-33 lead.  The Cardinals got huge production from Ryan Weber, who hit three straight 3's during the run, and they were able to open it up to a 20-point lead with 13 minutes to go before the Broncos were able to muster anything.

But as Hawkins' squad slowly chipped away, they were able to find a rhythm for the first time all night.  It would be sparked by a technical foul on Whitford with just under 11 minutes to play.  From there, they went on a 13-2 run to cut the lead down to just six points with seven minutes to play.

However, they wouldn't get closer the rest of the way.  The Cardinals would rebuild a 10-point lead, and the two teams would trade buckets to fluctuate the lead between high single digits.   As the Broncos only hit one shot the final 3:47, Ball State was able to close out the 74-64 victory at the line.

Weber had himself a game, finishing with 26 points and 4 rebounds on incredible shooting (10-for-12, 4-for-4 from three).  Bo Calhoun, who also chipped in during the hot start to the 2nd half, finished with 8 points and 8 rebounds.  Franko House and Jeremiah Davis added 15 and 11 points respectively.

For the Broncos, sophomore guard Thomas Wilder had solid point production once again, despite a rough shooting night from the floor.  He finished with 21 points on 5-for-14 shooting, but hit 10 free throws to keep WMU in it.  Tucker Haymond had 14 points and 7 rebounds, but shot 4-for-12 himself.  Drake Lamont had 9 points, using solid scoring inside, but struggled to find his stroke early on from the post.