Notre Dame Slips Against Ball State; Is It Time To Panic?

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Matt Farrell played 39 minutes and scored 14 points while dishing out 8 assists in their 80-77 loss to Ball State. (Source: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports).

SOUTH BEND, IN. — With 10 seconds left on the clock, the score tied at 77 and the ball in the hands of Ball State‘s Tayler Persons, the Cardinals’ leading scorer drained a last-second three pointer to shock the Notre Dame Fighting Irish inside the Purcell Pavilion, 80-77.

Prior to the 10th meeting between the Irish and the Cardinals, Notre Dame had claimed victories in all nine previous games, with their last win coming back in 1976.

Notre Dame has never let Ball State come close to ever upsetting them. Yesterday was a different story.

This might be a wake up call for the Irish, who got outmatched by the Michigan State Spartans two games ago, had some struggles against the St. Francis (Brooklyn) Terriers, and have now lost to the Ball State Cardinals.

ACC play is fast approaching, and some changes might have to be made.

Notre Dame held a small lead to start the game but it did not last long, as the two teams were tied at 8 just six minutes into the game.

Ball State then went on a on a 17-7 run, sparked by a Persons made jumper. Persons had 10 points in the first half, but went scoreless from the three point line.

He changed that in the second half.

With one minute left in the opening half, the Fighting Irish brought the score back within one, but let Ball State score a quick four points to go into the locker down 34-29 to the Cardinals.

Notre Dame, being the second half team they are, scored a quick four points to tie the game, and soon after, achieved their first lead since the beginning of the first half.

The Fighting Irish went up by as many as four points, but the Cardinals quickly answered.

Ball State gained more momentum and built a nine point lead after a 7-1 run, courtesy of Persons’ seven straight points. Notre Dame chipped away at the deficit but could never re-gain another lead.

With the score tied at 77 and the ball in the hands of Tayler Persons, a preseason All-MAC selection, showed why he is Ball State’s go-to-guy as he put the Cardinals on his back, draining a last second three pointer to upset the Irish.

The Cardinals beat the Irish 80-77 behind Tayler Persons’ 24 points, five rebounds, and three assists.

vs Ball State #2
T.J. Gibbs guarding Ball State’s, Tayler Persons who recorded 24 points for the Cardinals. (Source: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports).

After watching the game, there were three big factors that led to the upset on the Irish. The first factor was depth once again, and although this is becoming redundant, it is none the less a big reason for the loss.

Notre Dame’s bench was once again absent from the game, contributing only six of their 77 total points. John Mooney scored all six of the bench’s points, while also grabbing seven rebounds. D.J Harvey only played seven minutes and did not record a point.

The second factor was free throws. Notre Dame shot 73% from the charity stripe, going 19 for 26, missing seven shots that could have given them the win.

Finally, the last factor were Ball State’s second chances. While the Irish did in fact shoot better than the Cardinals from both the field and the three point line (ND: FG% 48.1, 3P% 35.3; Ball St: FG% 46%, 3P% 33.3), Ball State scored 14 second-chance points, compared to Notre Dame’s three.

The Cardinals out rebounded the Irish 40-26, and more specifically, grabbed more offensive boards (13 to Notre Dame’s four).

In addition to Persons’ 24 points, Ball State’s Tahjai Teague recorded 13 points and eight rebounds, while Sean Sellers dropped 11 points and seven rebounds.

Bonzie Colson led the Irish in points, scoring 26 points and grabbed six rebounds after being ejected from last game, while Martinas Geben had another good performance, in which he scored 12 points, grabbed five boards and recorded two assists and two steals.

Matt Farrell finished with 14 points and eight assists in addition to Rex Pflueger’s 11 points. T.J. Gibbs contributed eight points on the night.

Notre Dame will be hitting the road to Delaware for Saturday’s game against the Delaware Fightin’ Blue Hens, where Mike Brey started his head coaching career.

Brey was an assistant for the Duke Blue Devils under coach Mike Krzyzewski, before becoming the head coach at Delaware. He was there from 1995-2000 before heading to South Bend to start his tenure with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

It will be a nice homecoming for Brey, but needless to say, he and the rest of his Notre Dame squad will be focused in order to bounce back from Tuesday’s loss.

Tip-off is set for 7 PM on Saturday December 9th, and will be broadcasting live on CBS Sports Network.

– R. Scarfone

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