CMU men's basketball falls to Ball State


Central Michigan's sophomore guard Paul McMillan IV (right) seeks to get past his defender, Ball State's freshman guard Trent Middleton Jr., during the game Tuesday, Feb. 27 in McGuirk Arena. McMillan scored a career high 25 points. (CM-Life | Ella Miller) 

Central Michigan men’s basketball dropped its second-straight game on Tuesday, this time in a 79-71 loss to Ball State.

The loss brings the Chippewas to 16-12 on the season and 10-5 in Mid-American Conference play but are now tied with Ohio for third place in the MAC.

“We've got to find a way man, got to find a way,” CMU head coach Tony Barbee said. “It's disappointing when you're five games to go and you're still in the hunt for MAC championship and we've just completely let go of the rope.”

The game got out to a slow start with both teams edging out small leads over one another, as CMU had a point advantage with six minutes remaining in the first half.

In the following minutes, BSU went on a 15-5 run opening up a nine-point advantage over CMU with a little over a minute to play. Before the end of the half, the Chippewas cut the lead to seven, as CMU headed into half down 38-31.

To begin the second half the teams traded baskets, as CMU cut BSU’s lead to five. But in the next seven minutes the Cardinals would go on a 18-6 run that widened their lead to 18.

For the rest of the half, CMU clawed back and the lead stayed at double-digits until the Chippewas cut it to single digits with 40 seconds remaining.

CMU was able to cut the lead to six, but that was as close as it got as Ball State pulled out the 79-71 victory.

For the Chippewas, they entered Tuesday’s contest shorthanded as they were missing their star point guard in junior Anthony Pritchard. Pritchard, who has seemed to find his footing after a few rough games in a return from a shoulder injury, was out due to personal reasons.

“He had a private issue in his family,” Barbee said. “There's things in life that are bigger than basketball and it's something that he's dealing with.”

In place of Pritchard was sophomore guard Paul McMillian IV, who had a career-high 25 points on 71% (10-14) from the field. 

“I just wanted to get the win,” McMillian IV said. “It’s been a long time since we lost at home… growing up, middle school, high school, peewee ball, I used to catch fire a little bit, but you just get in a mode, and you just want to keep attacking, keep going.”

The 71 points CMU scored was the most it has scored in regulation in over a month as the last time the Chippewas broke the 70 barrier in two halves was on Jan. 23 against Miami (OH).

Something that lacked in the game was on the defensive side of the ball, as the Chippewas have now allowed over 79 points in back-to-back games. This is not ideal for CMU as it embraces its defensive identity.

“Defense was poor, been poor for two-straight games now. It's been our calling card. It's been our staple, and we've lost sight of that,” Barbee said.

The Chippewas will now head on the road for two-straight games as they will take on Kent State on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.