Ball State blows 15 point lead and loses to Northern Illinois
Cardinals now 4-15 heading into February
By Rick Yencer
MUNCIE, INDIANA (SPORTS) - It was game Ball State easily was winning until Northern Illinois stepped up, made points off of turnovers and beat the Cardinals in overtime, 67-65.
Frustration showed on the face by senior Chris Bond who lead all scoring with 16 points and was the go to at the end of regulation and overtime.
Ball State coach James Whitford said the Huskies tightened by defense and CB (Bond) just could not score.
Actually, Ball State ran up a 15 point lead in the first half with Bond and fellow senior Jesse Berry scoring eight points each. Fellow senior Majok Majok tied on rebounding with Husky freshman Aaric Armstead who both had five.
The problem was that Northern Illinois got more points off of Ball State turnovers and had the luck that Majok fouled out at the end of regulation, giving them the advantage under the basket.
And Ball State missed key free throws at the end of regulation that easily could have won the game with freshman Franko House missed two and Bond and sophomore Bo Calhoun shooting 1-1.
Whitford said he set up Bond to score in both regulation and overtime only to see that option fade away because of North Illinois's defense.
Husky coach Mark Montgomery, in his third year, said it takes time for a new coach to build a winning team, referring to Whitford who is in his first year at Ball State. Montgomery, who came from Michigan State, has a 18-62 record with the Huskies and Whitford, an assistant with Arizona, now has a 4-15 record at Ball State.
And Montgomery said how a team deals with repeated loss determines how tough they will compete again.
Whitford acknowledged Saturday's game was a frustrating loss, but said he was still trying to get 40 minutes of play out of a team that has three starting freshmen but usually finishes with three seniors.
And Bond said the team had to play harder and keep moving forward as the Cardinals are mid point in the conference season with a 1-7 conference record.
Ball State heads to Buffalo on Wednesday and will return to Worthen next Saturday to play Toledo.