Click here for COVID-19 updates affecting the campus community

Men's basketball rides emotional roller coaster, falls to Ball State

Junior guard Dallas Morgan makes his way past Ball State defense on Jan. 19 in McGuirk Arena.

An emotional roller coaster left Central Michigan men's basketball on the disappointing end against Ball State.

The Chippewas (14-4, 3-2 Mid-American Conference) dropped their second straight home game at McGuirk Arena to the Cardinals (11-7, 2-3 MAC), by a score of 83-72. 

CMU came out of the gate slow, and that could be attributed to a lack of energy in practice.

"Our energy and focus wasn't there to start," said senior guard Shawn Roundtree Jr. "That goes back to how we practiced and prepared for the game, we didn't have our best practices."

How it happened

BSU opened the game on a 12-2 run led by their guards, redshirt junior K.J. Walton and senior Tayler Persons. The duo capped off the run with a jumper that forced a Chippewa timeout. 

The Cardinals then extended their lead by as many as 13 coming on a jumper from Tahjai Teague. 

CMU would not go away quietly in the first half as responded with an 10-5 scoring run led by Roundtree and Kevin McKay. 

In the latter stages of the first half, the teams battled back and forth with CMU cutting its deficit to as low as five on a 3-pointer from sophomore guard Matt Beachler. 

The Cardinals brought their lead back to double digits with a jumper from Persons, but the Chippewas brought the Cardinal lead down to six at 41-35 as the teams went to the locker rooms for the break. 

CMU opened the second half on a 9-2 run centered by an impressive sequence from Roundtree. He forced a 10-second violation on Persons by utilizing a full-court press. He then made a layup off the turnover, then drew an offensive foul on the next Cardinal possession. 

"That kind of goes back to the story of our whole season," Roundtree said. "We need to be more consistent with our energy. We did a good job coming back like we always do, however once we got the lead, everything dropped and everyone seemed to have a sense of complacency."

The next possession, Montgomery gave the Chippewas their first lead with 17:25 left in the second half with a layup. 

Towards the middle of the second half, a set of lengthy delays were caused by official reviews. 

Following those delays, BSU then went on a long, 20-4 run led by Walton and Trey Moses. The Chippewas did not help their own cause by turning the ball over and missing shots, much like they did in the first half. 

"In our preparation coming up to the game, our practices weren't energetic and intense as they were in previous practices," Montgomery said. "That's what we have to capitalize on coming into Tuesday." 

Montgomery led the Chippewas with 19 points on 8-13 shooting, Roundtree followed with 16 points and senior guard Larry Austin Jr. contributed 15 of his own. 

Walton and Persons led the Cardinals with 24 and 21 points, respectively, Moses added 13 tallies as well. 

Coach Keno Davis pointed to the positives coming out of this game, saying that "even though we took the loss tonight, that we focus on improving some things that we saw from the game that can really help us." 

A common refrain from Davis is that his squad can always improve, but is not quite a finished product.

"We're far from a finished product, but I love the effort that this team gives," Davis said. "I look forward to seeing what this team can accomplish going forward."

CMU hits the road on Jan. 21 for a matchup with the Akron Zips at James A. Rhodes Arena.