Ball State’s men’s basketball team came into Thursday’s home game with the University at Buffalo having lost 11 of its past 12 contests. The Cardinals hadn’t beaten a Division I opponent since Nov. 18.
So a 71-68 victory at Worthen Arena turned into Ball State’s best win of the season, and the worst for the Bulls.
The Cardinals got 21 points off the bench from Jesse Berry in earning their first Mid-American Conference win of the season, erasing a four-point deficit with 3:27 to play.
Back to-back baskets by center Majok Majok tied the game before the Cardinals (4-12 overall, 1-4 MAC) went ahead, 69-67, on a jumper by Franko House with 45 seconds left. House and Majok each had a dozen points, while forward Chris Bond added 16.
Forward Javon McCrea led the Bulls (9-6, 3-2) with a game-high 28 points. Buffalo shot just 7 percent (1 of 14) from three-point range. UB had two chances to tie the game late, but both three-point attempts from Joshua Freelove were off the mark.
The UB women, meanwhile, earned a 63-52 win on the road at Northern Illinois. A 14-2 run over an 8-minute stretch in the second half was the key for the Bulls (10-7, 3-3), who won their first conference road game.
UB held the Huskies to just 28 percent shooting, and committed just nine turnovers.
Mackenzie Loesing led Buffalo with 15 points, while Kristen Sharkey had 14 points and nine rebounds.
In other Big 4 women’s basketball, Niagara lost a 13-point second-half lead, but rebounded to come away with a 71-67 overtime victory against host Manhattan in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play.
Chanel Johnson’s layup with 27 seconds left in overtime gave the Purple Eagles (6-12, 4-5) a 70-67 lead, and a three-point try from the Jaspers’ Monica Roeder was off the mark.
The Purple Eagles trailed, 40-32, less than a minute into the second half, but went on a 21-2 run over the next 7 minutes to open a 53-42 lead, with Johnson scoring eight of those points.
Niagara would extend the lead to 13 points, but the Jaspers chipped away and ultimately tied the game, 63-63, on a jumper by Shayna Ericksen to set up overtime.
Taylor McKay added 14 points and eight rebounds for Niagara, while Ericksen had a game-high 17 points for Manhattan (4-14, 3-6).
Tonight, the Niagara men’s team hosts Marist at 7 p.m. (TWCSN) in the Gallagher Center. The Purple Eagles (5-15, 2-7 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference) have dropped six of their last seven games, including an 87-74 loss at rival Canisius on Wednesday.
One of the few bright spots for the Purple Eagles remains the play of redshirt junior guard Antoine Mason, who continues to lead the country in scoring, at 27.7 points per game. Mason is scoring 36 percent of Niagara’s points.
Marist started the season by losing nine straight game, but has bounced back by winning six of its past nine contests.
The Canisius women’s team starts a stretch of three road games in six days with a visit to Fairfield (7:05 p.m.). The Golden Griffins (7-11, 3-6) have dropped eight straight against the Stags (10-7, 5-3), and trail the all-time series, 32-21.