Coming out of the second half, Ball State Men’s Basketball (1-1, 0-0 MAC) were only down by one point to No. 24 Purdue (2-0, 0-0 Big 10), but after five straight fouls and a 13-0 Boilermaker run, the Cardinals could not keep up and would fall, 84-75
“I told the guys in the locker room that we competed, stuck together and this is not an easy place to play or an easy team to play against,” head coach James Whitford said. “Those first eight minutes in the second half made a big difference in the game. We found a way to hang in there and I told them, as genuine as I can, we lost to a great program out there.”
Discipline would be an issue for the Cardinals from tip off as they would allow five points off of fouls in the first two minutes of the game. The fouling would continue in the second half and the Cardinals would pay for it. The Boilermakers put down 21 points from the free-throw line. Alongside, junior redshirt guard KJ Walton and junior redshirt forward Tahjai Teague would foul out. Walton would finish with 13 points and Teague with eight, a season low.
“Fouling certainly impacted us,” Whitford said. “We’re going to have to watch the film to get a sense of why so many fouls. There are two kind of fouls. Sometime you get them from going to the net and sometimes you get them from reaching. We’re going to have to go back and watch the tape, but that defiantly impacted us.”
The Cardinals stayed with the Boilermakers throughout the first half as Purdue would only build a lead of five. Senior redshirt guard Tayler Persons shot for 19 points in the first half knocking in 6-8 free throws and 3-4 three pointers. Persons free-throw shooting would help the Cardinals to a 75 percent free throw accuracy in the first half.
“I have a lot of confidence from my coaches and my teammates to play my game,” Persons said. “I don’t try to make it as big as it seems out there, but I just try to play my game and I do that every game. I got hot on some really good defenders and in the second half they too that away from me. They have a lot of good defenders and they play hard.”
Strong play in the first half did not transfer into the second half as the Cardinals would freeze on offense only putting up 34 points in the second half. The Cardinals were out rebounded 19-9, with the bulk of the rebounds coming offensively, 7-1. The Cardinals only offensive spark in the second half came in the final minutes of the game going on an eight point run.
The Cardinals will face another challenge in No. 15 Virginia Tech on Thursday in the first game of the Charleston Classic. The Hokies are coming off an 87-59 over Gardner-Webb.
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