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.