Ball State narrowly tops Tech in ESPNU Bracket Buster game, 59-55

MUNCIE, Ind. – The Ball State men’s basketball team held off Tennessee Tech 59-55 Saturday afternoon at Worthen Arena in the seventh annual ESPNU BracketBusters event. The victory improves the Cardinals to 12-13 overall on the season while the Golden Eagles fall to 11-17 on the year.

Down 32-19 at halftime, Tech played sensational defense in the second half and pulled to within two points late in the game only to come up short.

Tech now spends a week preparig for its regular season finale next Saturday at 4 p.m. at Jacksonville State. The winner will advance to the OVC Tournament as the No. 8 seed, and the loser will be finished until next year.

Ball State freshman forward Jarrod Jones was one of three Cardinals in double figures as he scored a game-high 16 points and also grabbed seven rebounds. Jones was strong from the free throw line in the victory as he connected on eight-of-nine from the charity stripe.

Senior guard Laron Frazier added 14 points as he was six-of-nine from the line as Ball State connected on 23-of-37 from the free throw stripe.

Senior Daniel Northern topped Tech in the low-scoring contest, achieving his 10th double-double of the season with 11 points and 13 rebounds. He was the only Golden Eagle in double figures in scoring, but Tech got plenty of balance as Will BArnes, Frank Davis and Elijah Muhamad each netted eight points and Kevin Murphy scored seven.

Tech shot 38.3 percent (18-for-47) from the field and 30.8 percent rom long distance (4-for-13) in the tough defensive batle. The Golden Eagles were just 15-for-23 at the free throw line for 65 percent.

Ball State connected on just 15 percent (3-for-20) in the second half and finished the game going 15-for-52 for 28.8 percent. The Cardinals hit 40 percent (6-for-15) from long range.

An 11-3 BSU run midway in the first half pushed the home team from a tight contest at 14-12 to a 10-point spread, 25-15. The Cardinals built their advantage to as many as 15 before taking a 13-ppoint bulge to the break.

Tech clipped awy at the defecit throughout the second half, getting it down to one point at 40-39 with 9:54 remaining. The Cardinals quickly went back up by seven, and Tech once again whittled the difference down to two, 49-47, with 3:31 to play.

Ball State hit some free throws and led by six, 55-49, with 39 seconds left, setting the stage for a wild finish.

Frank Davis made a 3-pointer to cut Ball State's lead to three, and after one Cardinal free throw, Muhammad made a floater to make it a 56-54 contest with 19 seconds left.

BSU's Randy Johnson missed both free throws with 15 seconds and Tech got the rebound and pushed the ball ahead to Murphy, but he missed a layup with nine seconds to play. Tech had one more chance down two when Murphy was fouled with 3.2 seconds left. He missed the first free throw and then, trying to miss the second intentionally to give the Golden Eagles a possible shot at tying the game, his second quick toss went through to make it 56-55.

Tech fouled and Brandon Lampley made both free throws, and Laron Frazier added on charity pitch with two seconds to play for the final margin.