Central Michigan and Ball State battled through three overtimes less than two weeks ago.
On Saturday afternoon they continued the battle in another close game.
The Cardinals (2-14, 5-22) took the victory this time 74-71 over CMU (3-13, 10-18).
It was a game of bottom feeders in the Mid-American Conference but head coach Keno Davis is confident that both teams aren’t far off from being one of the top teams in the MAC.
“The game was very representative of the conference as a whole,” Davis said. “You look at a Ball State team that lost in overtime to Western Michigan last weekend that is leading the conference. You have two teams at the bottom of the conference but they aren’t that far from being at the top of the league. There is a lot of parity. We are two teams in a rebuilding stage, we are working extremely hard to be one of those top teams.”
The final stat line was mostly even between the two teams with the biggest difference being in rebounds. CMU finished with 26 and Ball State with 41, 12 of them being offensive.
Davis is hoping that adding a big man presence next year will push the team into the upper tier of the MAC.
“That’s probably the best thing about this team,” Davis said. “We possibly are a year away with the majority of this team returning. We are close to being able to challenge the upper tier teams, I think everyone’s goal is to be able to believe that they can compete for championships. That’s what we want our program to be. A lot of it will depend on our offseason development.”
Free throws continue to be a problem for CMU as they shot just 63 percent from the line.
It’s one of many areas that CMU needs to improve upon.
“There are a lot of areas we need to improve,” Davis said. “We shot 63 percent from the free throw line. We had some unforced turnovers, you have a lot of those glaring marks but yet it’s a one possession game at the end of it. I think you can look at any of those areas.”
Sophomore Chris Fowler led the team in scoring with 26 points.
Freshman guard Braylon Rayson was second with 11.
Win or lose, you can almost always count of a high level performance from Fowler.
That characteristic is what makes Fowler the captain of the team.
“I think you would say it’s about the quality of the character of the individual,” Davis said. “Someone as focused and determined as he is in all aspects in his life. That’s why he was able to come in last year and have one of the greatest years a freshman. Now as a sophomore he is one of the best scorers in the conference. You know he is going to take the parts of his game in the offseason and work on them. That’s exciting and to be a leader you hope he will continue to influence players in our program. We are all interested in what Chris does as a career after CMU because whatever he does, he will be successful.”