February 27, 2011

Zeigler: 'We struggled with success'

MOUNT PLEASANT - A tale of two halves turned the wrong way for Central Michigan as the Chippewas were handed a 65-58 loss by Ball State after the Cardinals shot 76 percent from the field in the second half.

The Chippewas (9-19, 6-8 MAC) extended a 15-point halftime lead to 23 with an 8-0 run, scoring on four of their first five possessions to start the second half, but the Cardinals (17-11, 9-5 MAC) shut them down the rest of the way. Steadily chipping away at the lead, the Cardinals responded with a 12-0 run over the next four minutes and took their first lead of the game, 50-49, at the 4:44 mark after a 17-2 run. Central was held without a field goal from the 8:46 mark to the 1:49 mark and hit just three baskets in the final 18 minutes, matching their total from the first two minutes of the second period.

CMU shot 50 percent from the floor in the first half but just 30 percent (6-of-20) after halftime. Ball State, meanwhile, was limited to a season-low 19 points in the first period but rallied for 46 in the second on 16-of-21 shooting.

"It was the best and worst halves in 40 minutes of play," said CMU head coach Ernie Zeigler . "It definitely makes it tough to swallow. We had a good week of practice and saw some guys make some strides. It would have been a really good way to cap this week off if we could've sustained that level of play we had in the first half."

A fast start helped the Chippewas to an early 7-2 lead that was extended to 13, 21-8, seven minutes into the game, and CMU held a double-digit lead the rest of the half thanks in part to Derek Jackson 's 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting. Jackson and Trey Zeigler each finished with a team-high 16 points as Zeigler scored eight of his 10 second-half points at the line.

Ball State's Jesse Berry came off the bench to lead all scorers with 17 points, all of which came in the second half. After the Chippewas gained an 18-12 rebounding edge in the first period, the Cardinals out-rebounded them 19-6 after halftime.

The loss knocks the Chippewas out of contention for a third straight Mid-American Conference West Division title as the Cardinals took over first place in the West.

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