8 seconds to go. Jake Anderson misses his try for a finger roll just a play before an it's crunch time.
Tick. Tick. Tick...the clock runs down. The surprisingly large crowd is on their feet and the Convo is rocking.
Tick. Tick. Tick...there goes the final, off balance shot by Ball State. It's off and Najul Ervin grabs the rebound for the victory!
That's just a snapshot of how exciting the whole game was today from start to finish. Early on it was back and forth until we got a basket to go ahead right before the half by Jake Anderson. We eventually built a sizable lead towards the mid-point of the second half, but that didn't last for long against the MAC West leader. Ball State fought hard to come back in this game, but it just wasn't enough for them to obtain a victory from the Huskies at home.
F Sean Smith went out with a bang at the Convo on his senior night. Smith was the go-to guy especially early in the game and finished 8 of 15 for 20 pts.
G Jake Anderson was...guess who? Jake Anderson. He finished with 19 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 steals. Our offense was a little teeny bit too relient on Jake, but he made things happen driving to the basket and on D.
G Mike Dinunno was clearly off all game, going 1 for 7 with no assists. Bryan Hall filled in nicely at PG when Mike was ineffective. It might have had something to do with his hand, because his wrist was wrapped with tape around the thumb area.
C Ante Dzepina got the start for Sean Kowal, who was out with some sort of injury he probably endured last game when he got beat up against Western Michigan. We went with a much smaller lineup, as Ante scored 10 pts in only 17 minues.
Turnovers: NIU 9, BSU 18.
This turned out to be one of the most important stats for the game. There's no way that we would have won this game if we didn't force this many TOs.
3pt FG Pct: NIU 16.7%, BSU 66.7%
Hitting 3-pointers was the only way that Ball State was staying in this game. They were extremely effective hitting 8 of 12 from beyond the arc. Ball State can do this because they are ranked towards the bottom in the nation in tempo (322), as they run down the shot clock while setting up clean shots from 3.
Free throw watch: 9 of 20 (45%)
We defintely did a good job getting to the line, but failed to completely capitilize on these opportunities. Ervin was 0 for 3 and Dinunno was completely off his game today missing twice. Good job for Dzepina making 4 for 5 from the charity stripe.
Next up are 2 winnable road games @ EMU on Wednesday and the season finale @ Toledo on Sunday. We prevented Ball St from clinching the West and we're technically still in the race. It's time to exorcise our road ghosts and rise up in the MAC Tourney seedings. Right now we're one of the hottest team in the MAC winning 4 out of our last 5 games.