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Ball State Cardinals vs. Miami RedHawks men's basketball final: Ball State overcomes 16-point deficit to knock off Miami

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A 26-point performance for Eric Washington is not enough as Miami implodes in the second half.

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

As ugly of a half as the Ball State Cardinals played in the first 20 minutes of this afternoon's contest, it was going to take an even uglier second half performance from the opposition to give the Cardinals a chance to win.

Miami, apparently, was up for the challenge.

The RedHawks wasted a season-best game from Eric Washington (26 pts, 3 reb, 2 ast, 2 stl), as it blew a 16-point second half lead on the road and allowed Ball State to sink a last-second shot to walk away with a 48-46 victory. Ball State improves to 12-6 (3-1 MAC), while Miami falls to 6-11 (0-4 MAC), and remains winless on the road this season.

For Ball State, it will count its blessings for being able to squeak out a victory in a game that saw the Cardinals score just 17 points in the first half on 6-of-21 shooting while turning the ball over 11 times.

It took more than five minutes for Ball State to get on the scoreboard Saturday afternoon, and hardly got easier from there. The Cardinals mostly got in their own way, making several unforced errors and failing to make shots even when they had set themselves up perfectly. At the halftime break, they had received a meager total of two field goals from their top four scorers combined.

Miami, while not setting the world on fire, was quietly using a two-man show to maintain a commanding lead, with Washington and Geovanie McKnight combining for 21 of the team's first 28 points and rebounding well to keep Ball State at bay in terms of second chance points.

There would have been good reason to suspect a quick resurgence on Ball State's end in front of its home crowd, but instead, Miami stayed directly on pace in the opening minutes, with Washington drilling consecutive 3-point attempts and the team building a 36-20 advantage with 16:34 left in the game.

In the next 14 minutes of competition, Miami would shoot 2-of-12 from the field, turn the ball over eight times, and Ball State mounted a comeback and took a late lead.

Washington made a clutch layup to tie things at 46 with 28.5 seconds left, giving Miami a shot to get one more stop and force overtime. That wasn't to be, however, as Jeremiah Davis punctuated his strong second half with a game-winning layup with 2.5 seconds on the clock.

Jeremie Tyler and Ryan Weber each scored 10 points to lead Ball State in the comeback effort.