Bulls defeat Ball State Cardinals in home-game rematch
Josh Mballa and Jayvon Graves contribute double-doubles in Bulls victory
The UB men’s basketball team (17-9, 8-5) defeated MAC rival Ball State (14-12, 7-6) 72-59 at Alumni Arena Tuesday. This marked the third-straight win for the Bulls, who are now in third place in the MAC East.
UB got off to a slow start, shooting 1-14 in the first seven minutes. But the Bulls managed to tie the game just before halftime and went into the tunnel knotted up at 29.
Bulls forward Josh Mballa was crucial on both ends of the court, pouring in 16 points and grabbing 15 rebounds to help push the Bulls past the Cardinals.
Mballa recently took on a new role coming off the bench, but it hasn’t impacted his play, as he embraces being the team’s new “sixth man.”
“I just try to play with energy every game off the bench,” Mballa said. “I come in and try to help on defense and help my teammates win.”
The Bulls improved their scoring with 43 second-half points, led by senior guard Jayvon Graves and sophomore forward Jeenathan Williams. Graves finished with 16 points, 10 rebounds and 3 assists, while Williams finished with 16 points, 2 rebounds and 1 steal.
“That’s what good players do … they play [on] both ends of the floor,” head coach Jim Whitesell said about Graves’ performances.
Graves and Mballa led UB’s dominant rebounding performance, as the Bulls snatched 19 offensive rebounds, and outrebounded the Cardinals 51-42 overall.
Despite a close second half, the Bulls went on a 22-11 run, securing a 13-point advantage in the game’s final three minutes, claiming their victory over the Cardinals. Ball State’s Jarron Coleman had 15 points and 5 assists, but it wasn’t enough.
The Bulls previously lost to Ball State 88-68 earlier this season, and Whitesell was ready to make adjustments.
“We watched a lot of tape,” he said. “We saw where we needed to improve after they beat us, and we learned from our mistakes.”
With the win, UB is tied for third place with the NIU Huskies (15-11, 8-5) heading into Friday’s road game against the Kent State Golden Flashes (17-9, 7-6) at the Memorial Athletic and Convocation Center.
The Flashes are currently tied with the Cardinals for fourth place in the conference.
Now, the Bulls look to build momentum and continue their three-game winning streak as the MAC tournament approaches.
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