WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The Ball State men’s basketball team held a lead with less than 10 minutes to play Tuesday night at Purdue but couldn’t hang on down the stretch.
The Boilermakers pulled out a 66-56 win at Mackey Arena despite a game-high 22 points from Ball State’s Jesse Berry, who played in front of somewhat of a home crowd.
Berry, a Lafayette, Ind., product, hit four 3-pointers and teamed with Marcus Posley in the backcourt to keep the Cardinals within striking distance until the end.
Posley and Berry combined to hit 3-pointers on three straight trips down the floor midway through the second half that put the Cardinals on top 45-43.
Ball State continued to maintain a two-point advantage at 47-45 with 8:33 left in the game before Purdue snatched the momentum with a 13-2 run. A layup by Terone Johnson with 3:51 left capped the run and gave the Boilermakers a 58-49 lead.
The Cardinals clawed to within 59-54 with two minutes to play. They had their best chance to put more pressure on Purdue when Berry got a look at a transition 3-pointer that would have cut the lead to two, but the shot went just long off the back of the rim. Ball State later drew within four points with one minute to play, but Purdue closed the game out at the free throw line.
“When we get a chance to go back and watch the film, there will be a lot of good things we will be able to pull from this game,” Ball State coach Billy Taylor said. “It is discouraging because we felt like we competed hard and put ourselves in position to win, but scoring 56 points on the road just isn’t going to get it done.”
Post player A.J. Hammons led four double-figure scorers for Purdue with 15 points, while Terone Johnson scored 14, and D.J. Byrd and Ronnie Johnson added 11 each.
Ball State’s chances were hurt by its 17 turnovers, which Purdue cashed in for 17 points. The Boilermakers’ 17-7 advantage in points off turnovers was equal to the game’s final margin.
The Cardinals did manage to hold one of the nation’s top rebounding teams in check on the boards. The Boilermakers entered the game out-rebounding their opponents by 10 per game and averaging more than 15 offensive boards a night. Ball State was only out-rebounded 33-32, and the Cardinals held the Boilers to nine offensive boards, including just four after the game’s opening eight minutes.
“If you would have told me coming in that we would be even on the boards with them, I would be very pleased with that outcome and say we would at least have a chance to win,” Taylor said. “And we did. We were very competitive, but our mistakes offensively with turnovers and some ill-timed shots came back to bite us toward the end of the game.”
Much like its rally late in the game, Purdue also used a run to regain control in the first half. The Boilermakers trailed 11-10 but went on a 10-2 spurt and eventually took a 27-26 lead into the locker room. Ball State opened the second half with five straight points, and it was a back-and-forth game after that.
The Cardinals finished the game shooting 34.6 percent, while Purdue knocked down 44.2 percent. The Boilermakers attempted only eight 3-pointers on the night and made three of them, all by Byrd.
Majok Majok led Ball State on the glass with 10 boards for his fifth straight game of double-digit rebounds. Matt Kamieniecki added six points and six rebounds off the bench.
Senior guard Jauwan Scaife hit a 3-pointer early in the second half that moved him into solo possession of fifth place on Ball State’s list for career treys with 143. He moved ahead of his cousin and former Ball State star Bonzi Wells.