Despite a furious second half rally, Ball State dropped a 61-47 Mid-American Conference men's basketball decision Saturday to Kent State at Worthen Arena.
Ball State (7-7, 1-1 MAC) whittled an 18-point deficit all the way down to one with just under seven minutes to play. The did so by pounding the ball into junior center Majok Majok, who attacked the basket for much of the second half. But the Cardinals' surge came up short, and they could not overcome a rough all-around shooting day.
Majok notched his fifth double-double of the season with a 13-point, 11-rebound effort, while Chris Bond added 10 points and nine boards for the Cardinals.
"I thought Majok's performance on the interior was impressive," Ball State coach Billy Taylor said in a release. "Our rebounding effort was absolutely tremendous. If we can keep getting that kind of rebounding effort, I have confidence in what this team can do."
Just days after turning in their best shooting performance of the season in a win at Eastern Michigan, the Cardinals suffered through their lowest shooting percentage of the season Saturday against Kent State.
Ball State made 17 of 61 shots from the floor (27.9 percent), 5 of 23 from 3-point range (21.7 percent) and 8 of 24 from the free throw line (33.3 percent). Despite all that, the Cardinals were right in the game down the stretch.
Ball State held a 48-39 advantage on the boards, including a commanding 23-8 margin on the offensive glass. But the Cardinals were only able to turn those 23 offensive rebounds into 10 second-chance points.
A 20-1 Kent State run to close the first half left Ball State trailing 35-20 at the break, and a 3-point play by Melvin Tabb on the first possession of the second half gave the Golden Flashes their largest lead of the day at 38-20.
Ball State then began to claw its way back. Still trailing 44-28 with 14:29 to play, the Cardinals went on a run of their own. They held Kent State scoreless for the next six and a half minutes, going on a 16-1 spurt.
Majok hit the first of two free throw attempts with 6:55 on the clock to cut the deficit to 45-44, but the second one would not fall. Kent State's Bryson Pope grabbed the rebound and was fouled, and the Golden Flashes scored the next five points to take control back.
"I thought our effort was tremendous today," Taylor said. "I thought out guys played with great passion, great energy. We had a bad stretch at the end of the first half when they went on a run and we allowed them to get out in transition. But we fought back.
We showed a lot of resiliency, a lot of character. We got the game to one possession and just couldn't convert when we needed to in order to get over the hump."
Ball State trimmed the lead to four points one last time at 50-46, but Kent State then scored 11 of the game's final 12 points to close it out.
Randal Holt scored a game-high 16 points for Kent State and Chris Evans added 14, both off the bench, for a Golden Flashes team that shot 40.4 percent for the game.
Ball State led by as many as eight in the game's early going after forcing Kent State into 1-of-11 shooting to start the day. The Golden Flashes grabbed their first lead on a 3-pointer from Holt with 6:14 to play in the first half and were able to hang onto the lead the rest of the way.