Meyer’s double-double not enough in loss to Ball State
The Mid-American Conference's preseason prediction that Central Michigan men's basketball would finish last in the West Division may be coming true.
The Chippewas (12-6, 1-4 MAC) lost to Ball State (12-6, 3-2), 82-76, on Jan. 15 at Worthen Arena despite a double-double from senior forward Luke Meyer, who logged 26 points and 14 rebounds.
CMU has now lost four straight conference games, with its only conference win coming against Ohio on Jan. 2 in McGuirk Arena.
“We worked so hard in this game (against Ball State),” CMU head coach Keno Davis said. “It’s just disappointing to lose. On the positive side, besides Luke Meyer and Kevin McKay, everybody else’s stat lines were just terrible and it’s a two-possession game at the end, so I’m proud of our team.”
Jeremie Tyler led the way for head coach Mike Neu’s squad, scoring 21 points and grabbing three rebounds to pace the Cardinals.
CMU senior guard Josh Kozinski missed the game-opening 3-pointer, which started a negative shooting trend for both teams. Eventually, Ball State senior guard Sean Sellers dropped in a triple for the first points of the game over two and a half minutes into the game.
Sophomore forward David DiLeo, who leads CMU in minutes played per game, picked up two early fouls, which kept him to limited minutes during the start of the game. He was a non-factor for the Chippewas on offense, only scoring six points.
CMU senior forward Cecil Williams helped the Chippewas battle for the entire first half. He had a team-high 11 points and six rebounds at halftime.
Paving the way in a 37-31 first half edge, Ball State provided nine assists on 12 made shots. The Chippewas struggled to score 3-pointers, going 2-for-13 in the first half.
“We tried to give a little more help to our post in the zone,” Davis said. “Kozinski’s one of those guys who normally isn’t in that position, but we moved him over because he’s a pretty smart basketball player. Unfortunately, we couldn’t play him for 40 minutes out there, but he was really helping us.”
Meyer opened the second half scoring by five straight points, cutting Ball State’s lead to four, 40-36, with 18:43 left in the game.
Ball State built a nine-point lead, but back-to-back layups from Meyer and sophomore guard Kevin McKay dropped CMU’s deficit to only five points, 45-40, with 15:50 left in the game.
Junior center Trey Moses answered and gave Ball State a 49-40 lead. A following jumper by junior guard Tayler Persons pushed the Cardinals’ lead to 11 points with 12:58 left in the game.
Moses and Persons scored 13 and 12 points, respectively, for Ball State. Moses’ effort included 11 rebounds and two assists, which earned him a double-double. Sellers chipped in 11 points, four rebounds and three assists.
Luke Meyer scored two straight 3-pointers, trimming CMU's deficit to 65-61 against Ball State with 5:34 remaining in the contest.
CMU trailed by six points following scores from Meyer and McKay, but a layup from sophomore forward Tahjai Teague with 1:02 left helped Ball State put the game away and eventually earn an 82-76 victory.
In the Chippewa loss, junior guard Shawn Roundtree dropped in 16 points and six assists, while Williams scored 14 points, but turned the ball over seven times.
“We see more of that and Luke’s going to have a tough decision at the end of the year with whether he wants to keep his basketball career or go right into engineering,” Davis said. “I’m really proud of the way he’s been able to get better over the years.”
In spite of being outrebounded, Ball State managed to shoot the ball at an extremely high rate, going 29-of-58 from the field and 10-of-27 from 3-point range.
The Chippewas, on the other hand, only converted 36.1 percent of their field goals.
“Winning by 21 rebounds is a number,” Davis said. “In our last three games, we lost all three on the boards. We said that’s not going to happen because of effort. By going that hard (in rebounds), we might not have been able to flow as well offensively.”
CMU will remain on the road, heading to the Stroh Center to play Bowling Green at 3:30 p.m. on Jan. 20 before returning home to McGuirk Arena for a battle against Miami (Ohio) at 7 p.m. on Jan. 23.
“We are not that far away from being as good as anybody in this conference,” Davis said. “We have to continue to work to get there.”