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Ball State overpowers Huskies in a W for Newell

Final - 1.13.2009 1 2 Total
Northern Illinois Huskies 34 20 54
Ball St. Cardinals 27 33 60

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The comparisons are there between the Ball State Men's Basketball team and their Football team.  Both have lost the star of their team early on in the season.  WR Dante Love was the heart and soul of the Cardinal offense until he went down with an injury to his spinal chord and missed the rest of the season.  The football team rallied around this brave player, flirting with an undefeated season while making it to the MAC Championship and the GMAC bowl.

Down went F Anthony Newell on Saturday with a broken leg for the basketball team.  Out for the season, the Cardinals had to make the decision to let this season go or put up a fight in the MAC West and make some noise this season even without their former leading scorer and rebounder in Newell.

It was even for most of the game with the Huskies taking the upper-hand earlier in the game, but they just couldn't step up to Ball State's intensity in the 2nd half of the game as they found an answer to the 3-2 zone that we were playing.  The Huskies lost 60-54 in a game they just couldn't finish.

Coach Patton explains it all

"We tried to pound the ball inside, and unfortunately, we didn’t come away with much. We also committed 16 turnovers, and we hurt ourselves in that regard. When you get to the free throw line 20 times and only make eight of them, you can’t beat anyone."

"Down the stretch, we needed to make a few more stops, but more importantly, we needed to make better decisions offensively. The late unforced errors really cost us a chance to win. There were a number of things we did to hurt ourselves (tonight). Without question, the two major areas of concern going forward are the turnovers and our struggles from the free throw line."

The Huskies have dipped to 334th in free throw %.  C Sean Kowal has to really step up his game at the FT line after a 2 for 8 performance.  Especially if he wants to keep being the offensive threat that he is.  Ante Dzepina did a better job on the boards, bringing 8 balls down.

Along with defensive presence Najul Ervin limping off right at the end of the first half, the lack of depth right now on our bench hurt us in more ways than one.

"Our bench was pretty short tonight. Michael (Patton) normally comes in and gives us a lift offensively, and he wasn’t able to make the trip. We tried to get (Tyler) Storm some minutes, but it was a defensive game, and his defense needs to continue to improve to help us when we need stops. Ball State had 17 assists, and only nine turnovers; we had 11 assists and 16 turnovers. You aren’t going to win many ball games when you have more turnovers than assists, particularly on the road."

Although the Huskies put up quite a fight on the road against Ball St, it was not enough against the team with the best record in the MAC West Conference.

Can Ball State maintain the momentum from this 2-0 start in conference play?  Ball St Senior Rob Giles weighs in

"Being at home, good home crowd, having New not here, we're going to keep that emotion with us all year," Giles said. "And that's something we're going to try to keep."

Only time will tell if the division is still up for stake February 28th, our 3rd from last game of the season where we face the Cardinals again at home.

The Huskies continue their road trip agaisnt the 4-10 Western Michigan Broncos on Saturday.  Turnovers,