Ball State’s team effort on Friday night prevailed over the individual showcase of the Eastern Michigan Eagles star Emoni Bates 35 point explosion. Bates, who has averaged over 21 points in the Mid-American Conference, has scored over 30 points for his fourth game of the season and third straight game with 35 or more per game. Bates had help from Tyson Acuff, who added 18 points, and Noah Farrahhan contributed 16 points in the losing effort.
Ball State was led by center Payton Sparks, 22 points, 15 rebounds, and four assists. The Cardinals finished with five players scoring double figures: Mickey Pearson with 13, Jarron Coleman with 18, Demarius Jacobs with 16, Jaylin Sellers with 17, and Payton Sparks with 22.
The Cardinals jumped out to an early 23 -13 lead in front of Worthen Arena’s largest crowd of 6,068 since 2009. The atmosphere and entertaining back-and-forth game, of course, went to overtime. At the end of regulation, the teams were all locked up at 78.
In overtime, Ball State’s Payton Sparks’ layup with 15 seconds left gave the Cardinals an 88 -87 lead. Ball State hit some clutch free throws to close the game over Eastern Michigan.
Next up for Ball State will be a road game at Central Michigan Chippewas on February 7 with a 7:00 PM tipoff on ESPN+.