Ball State cannot overcome Eastern Michigan's Da'Shonte Riley
Eagles dominate the paint, beat the Cardinals 73-62
By Rick Yencer
MUNCIE, INDIANA (SPORTS) - Ball State led only minutes into the game with Eastern Michigan Wednesday before being dominated by seven foot Eagles center Da'Shonte Riley who controlled the paint and gave his team a 73-62 victory.
Riley did not score a point but frustrated Ball State center Majok Majok who had nine rebounds but only three points.
Ball State senior Jesse Berry, who led the team with 17 points, acknowledged Majok needed a monster game to cover Riley with a 7'6" wing span that kept the ball away from the Cardinals.
But after that brief first minutes, Ball State could only tie Eastern Michigan a couple times before a strong defense by the Eagles and too many turnovers by the Cardinals doomed any victory.
The loss left the Cardinals at the bottom of the Mid American Conference western division at 1-10 with a 4-18 season. The Eagles moved up 6-5 in the MAC at 14-10.
Eagles coach Rob Murphy lamented first year Cardinal coach James Whitford's first season, saying that Ball State's seniors Majok, Berry and Chris Bond always gave his team trouble.
But with Riley under the basket and Eagles guard Raven Lee scoring 24 points, Eastern Michigan controlled he second half and never let Ball State come back.
Even Ball State guard Zavier Turner, who had 15 points, was confounded by Riley and his long arms that kept the ball in the hands of fellow teammates.
The star of the Ball State team was senior guard Kinton Crowder who came off the bench, and scored 10 points, including an early three pointer.
Crowder agreed that Riley had a huge reach and it was tough to shoot around him.
Berry said Eastern Michigan played zone like top ranked Syracuse that got a scare from Pittsburgh Wednesday night and it was difficult to shoot over Riley.
Ball State again committed too many turnovers and almost matched Indiana that lost to Penn State Wednesday night after turning the ball over 20 times.
With Ball State's season now depending on conference tournament play, Berry still hoped for a turnaround like last year where the Cardinals won seven out of eight last games, ending a 15-15 season losing in the conference tournament.
The Cardinals will be back at Worth on Saturday during a mens and womens double header with Bowling Green.