KALAMAZOO, Mich. -- Skip Mills scored Ball State's first 17 points, en route to 20 in the first half, but the host Western Michigan Broncos shot 68 percent in the second half to score a 74-61 victory.
The loss drops Ball State to 4-11 overall and 0-2 in the Mid-American Conference, while Western Michigan improved to 6-9 overall and 1-1 in the league.
"You can't let any team shot close to 70 percent in half and expect to have a chance," says first-year BSU head coach Ronny Thompson. "They played hard, made shots and finished the game. They also went to the boards hard in the second half and got some second-chance points that helped turned the tide."
After a 31-27 BSU lead at halftime, the Cardinals extended the lead to 39-34 after a jumper from Peyton Stovall, but Western Michigan's Derek Fracalossi sparked a 7-0 Bronco run on the next possession that eventually saw the the host team knot the score at 39 with 14:52 on the clock. The run was capped by back-to-back scores from Michael Redell, giving Western a 41-39 lead seconds later. A jumper from Micah Rollin tied the contest at 41 all, but a layup from WMU's Andrew Hershberger with 12:29 to play gave the Broncos a 43-41 lead they would never relinquish.
The two teams battled over the next five minutes of the game, before a three from WMU's David Kool pushed the home team's lead to 53-48 with 7:59 left. Kool drained another long-range bomb with 5:37 on the clock to give WMU a 58-50 edge, while a driving layup from Fracalossi with 3:30 left pushed the lead to double figures for the remainder of the game. A pair of free throws from Redell with :43 left gave WMU its biggest lead at 72-57 en route to the 74-61 final margin. "If you have to help on defense on every possession it's going to be a long game," Mills said. "I think it's on us, we have to strap down and do a better job on defense."
Mills finished the first half with 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting, but was held to just four points in the second half. The first 20 minutes started with a 7-0 BSU run thanks to Mills. The Broncos answered with a bucket from Derek Fracalossi at the 17:07 mark to spark an 11-0 WMU run. The two teams traded leads for the remainder of the half, until a jumper from D'Andre Peyton and another three-point field goal from Mills as the half ended accounted for the 31-27 lead.
In addition to the 24 points from Mills, D'Andre Peyton was the only other Cardinal in double figures with 12 points. Rollin finished with nine points and four boards. Fracalossi paced five Broncos in double figures with 19 points. Ball State returns to action with a 2 p.m. contest Saturday vs. Eastern Michigan in Muncie. Tickets are available online or by calling the BSU Ticket Office at 1.888.BSU. Tickets.
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