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Ball State Cardinals vs. Bowling Green Falcons men's basketball recap: Cards Rally to Edge BG, 72-64

Falcons go cold last as Ball State wins 72-64 in Bowling Green.

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

It really must have seemed like Groundhog Day for the Ball State Cardinals for much of Tuesday night in Bowling Green.   The Cardinals had lost eight straight to the Falcons and were 0-5 in the Stroh Center since it opened in 2011.  But a late run and a suddenly cold Bowling Green squad helped Ball State escape with a 72-64 win.

After not scoring the last 4:34 of the first half, it took the Cardinals another 5:20 to finally score into the second half.  That's nearly a 10 minutes stretch without scoring.  The Falcons led 47-36 when a three-pointer from Ball State's Ryan Weber finally broke the drought.  The Cardinals were lucky to only be down 11 points at that point.

The Falcon's Zack Denny hit three straight three-pointers to push the Falcon lead to 53-40 with 12 minutes left to play.   The Cardinals would work to cut the lead to 60-58 with 4:57 to play thanks to a couple of three-pointers, one from Bo Calhoun and another from Francis Kiapway.  The Cardinals took their first lead, 64-62 in almost 19 minutes on a layup by Kiapway with 3:01 to play.

The Falcon's Ismail Ali would miss two free throws with a chance to tie the game with just over a minute left.  Ball State's Ryan Weber hit two free throws to push the lead to 68-64 with 50 seconds left.  Denny would miss a three-pointer on the Falcon's ensuing possession and Weber would then hit two more free throws to basically ice the game for Ball State.  Bowling Green would not score in the final 2:51 of the game.

Kiapway and Franko House led the Cardinals with 16 points apiece, while House also pulled down seven boards to lead the team.  The Cardinals shot 25-47 for 53.2 percent from the field for the game, and 10-19 (52.6%) from three-point.

Denny led the Falcons with 20 points and 13 rebounds.  Wes Alcegaire with 12 points, was the only other Falcon in double figures.  The Falcons shot 18-48 (37.5%) from the field and 6 of 16 (37.5%) from three-point.  The Falcons out-rebounded Ball State 35-25 and scored 12 more points from the free throw line (32-20) than the Cardinals, but it didn't matter.

In a sloppily played first eight minutes to the game, the Cardinals jump out to a lead as big as seven points (17-10) on the strength of the three ball by Kiapway and the inside play of House.  Then the Falcon's second unit, led by Antwon Lillard, Ali and JD Tisdale, went on an eight-point run to take the lead, 18-17.

Ball State would lead again by five, 33-28 after another Kiapway three-pointer with 4:34 left in the half.  The Cardinals did not score the remainder of the half as Bowling Green scored 12 unanswered points to take a 40-33 lead into the locker room.  Rasheed Worrell, Denny and Alcegaire led the Falcon's late surge into intermission.

The Falcons now stand at 4-5 in the MAC and 13-9 overall.  Ball State improves to 5-4 in league play and 14-8 overall.  The Falcons will travel to Miami on Saturday, while the Cardinals return home to face Western Michigan.

Game Leaders

Player Ball State Bowling Green
Points Franko House, Francis Kiapway (16) Zack Denny (20)
Rebounds Franko House (7) Zack .Denny (10)
Assists Ryan Weber (4) Ismail Ali(5)
Blocks Franko House (2) Rasheed Worrell (1)
Steals Bo Calhoun (3) David Joseph (2)