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Ball State Cardinals vs. Eastern Michigan Eagles men's basketball: 2OT demanded madness, Cards win 88-87

Officiating killed it, because that's what #MACtion is all about.

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

The officiating was bad, but that's a given in the Mid-American Conference. It took a couple of overtimes, but the refs finally settled in. Let's watch the film.

CONTEXT: Eastern Michigan was up 87-85.

Don't want to call the foul? Fine, let them play.

Don't want to call the blatant travel? Maybe basketball officiating isn't for you.

"All three officials watched us get the rebound and consistently get fouled," Eastern Michigan head coach Rob Murphy said after the game. "Officials watched them travel, and they watched them hit a three. You don't blame a game on officials, but in my 20 years of coaching, that's the worst-ignored call, or sequence, I've ever seen... Those guys did a bad job, throughout the game, but in particular on that play. It was unfair. It's not fair to end the game that way when all you have to do is blow a whistle, put us on the free throw line, we miss or make and Ball State gets a chance to come back down.

"Those guys purposely ignored it. The problem is there's no accountability."

Under 40 seconds left in regulation, Ty Toney's jumper was blocked by Naiel Smith, patted away by Thompson so no Cardinals could grab the rebounded which sent Jodan Price over to get it before it crossed half court. Going down for the ball, he was fouled by Smith to put Price at the line in a 71-71 game. Missed both of his free throws. Ryan Weber would miss an open 3-pointer on the other end, thus sending the game into overtime.

"When you have opportunities, you've gotta make the best of them," Murphy said.

James Thompson and Tim Bond would both fouled out in the final two minutes of overtime. Ethan Alvano (not Raven Lee) and Blake Brown come in for them both. Frank House free throws and one more by Francis Kiapway would give Ball State the 77-75 lead. Ten seconds remaining, Willie Mangum lost control of the ball as he went for the 3-point shot. Brandon Nazione scooped it up and while it looked like his lay-up should've been counted to put him at the line for a three-point play to potentially end the game with a 1-point lead, refs signaled that the defensive foul on Ball State was before the shot, Nazione had to make two shots to tie things up at 77 instead of going for the win. Obviously he made them, otherwise we wouldn't have had the madness to talk about in that the lede of this recap.

Toney has been nothing short of impressive for the Eagles this season and is one of the main reasons why EMU stayed in the game when things weren't going their way. Stealing a Jeremie Tyler pass, Toney would go coast-to-coast with the layup for EMU to take back the lead at 54-53, 10:44 remaining in the game. After three straight games with six field goals, his streak of hitting six shots goes to four (6-for-18) with a perfect 10-for-10 from the free throw line to give him a 23 point game. He also was able to get six steals to help EMU get 17 as a team.

His seventh three-pointer is the biggest talking point of them all, but Francis Kiapway was the hot hand for Ball State today. Good looks and good shots behind the arc against a 2-3 zone is kryptonite; Kiapway went 7-for-15 in that category, lead his team with 22 points.

Surprisingly enough, James Thompson went the entire first half without picking up a personal foul (and played all 20 minutes), but found himself in foul trouble quickly in the second. Blake Brown has only gotten six minutes of playing time in MAC play, but was on the floor in critical moments of the game. He put up his first field goal since playing Marygrove on November 25 and even came down with six rebounds. In the second overtime, he's grab an offensive rebound for the put-back shot with the shot clock winding down to 1 to give EMU the 84-80 lead.

Jeremie Tyler also shot well for Ball State, was able to get to the free throw line four times, making all of those, putting up 17 total points. Franko House was also active on the free throw line, picking up Thompson's fifth foul in OT, going 9-for-14 there for the game to have 15 total points with seven boards.

Bo Calhoun found himself in foul trouble and was limited in later action, but he still picked up 14 points with 14 rebounds in his 35 minutes on the floor. He helped draw Tim Bond's fifth foul in OT as well.


Game Leaders

Player EMU Ball State
Points Toney, Thompson (23) Kiapway (22)
Rebounds Thompson (14) Calhoun (14)
Assists Bond (4) 3 with 3
Blocks 2 with 1 3 with 1
Steals Toney (6) Kiapway (2)