Notre Dame (7-2) didn't have enough answers for Ball State (5-4) in the second half, and the Cardinals found a way Tuesday night to knock off the No. 9 Irish 80-77 inside Purcell Pavilion.
After senior Irish point guard Matt Farrell tied the game at 77 with under 30 seconds to go, Ball State guard Tayler Persons drilled a three-pointer with 1.7 seconds to pull off the upset.
The Cardinals took a 34-29 advantage into halftime and despite Notre Dame regaining the lead on multiple occasions during the fall 20 minutes, the Cardinals answered every time.
Here's a half-by-half recap of the game.
Senior forward Bonzie Colson got the ball rolling for the Irish in the scoring department forcing an early foul to get to the line knocking down 1-of-2.
Farrell followed it up with a nifty layup to give the Irish an early 3-0. Farrell showcased his point guard skills finding senior big man Martinas Geben in the middle of the lane for a dunk.
Ball State was able to tie it up at 5-5 after a three-pointer by Sean Sellers, but Irish junior guard answered with a three of his own to give Notre Dame an 8-5 advantage with under 15 minutes left in the half. Jeremie Tyler did the same for the Cardinals tying it back up at eight apiece with 14:32 remaining.
Colson knocked down two free throws to put the Irish back up before Persons went on a personal 4-0 run to give the Cardinals a 12-10 lead with 11:38 left in the half. Notre Dame started the first 7:22 3-of-10 from the field.
After Geben cut the Ball State lead to 14-12 with an and-one via a nice assist from sophomore big man John Mooney, the Irish missed its next five shots to allow Ball State to take a 19-13 advantage at the 8:11 mark.
At the under-eight media timeout, which Ball State led 21-15, the Irish were in the middle of a 3:46 drought of no field goals. Overall, the team had hit just 4-of-16 (25 percent) from the field and 1-of-6 behind the arc. Ball State countered with an 8-of-21 (38.1 percent) clip.
Ball State led by as much as eight over the next couple of minutes holding a 25-17 edge with 6:03 left in the first. The Irish chipped away over the next two-and-a-half minutes cutting the Cardinals lead down to one (25-24) after Geben converted his second and-one chance of the game with 3:25 remaining.
The Irish had a chance to take the lead with under a minute to go, but Gibbs could not connect on either of his two free throw attempts with the Irish down 30-29. Ball State finished the half on a 4-0 run including converting on a jumper at the buzzer to take a 34-29 lead into the break.
Colson (9 points, 4 rebounds) and Geben (8 points, 5 rebounds) were the lone bright spots for an Irish offense which converted just 10-of-27 (37 percent) of its field goal attempts including 2-of-10 behind the arc. Mooney provided three points and four rebounds off the bench in nine minutes of action.
Persons led all scorers with 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting while Sellers added seven points for the Cardinals. Ball State shot 12-of-31 (38.7 percent) overall with a 3-of-11 (27.3 percent) effort from the three-point line.
Ball State out-rebounded the Irish in the half 22-15 including a 6-2 edge on the boards which led to six second-chance points for the Cardinals.
Notre Dame, and especially guard Rex Pflueger, came out hot in the opening four minutes of the second half.
The junior guard scored eight points in those four minutes to help give the Irish a 44-40 lead with 16:07 remaining. Pflueger got an and-one to open the scoring with Geben following that with a layup to put the Irish on a 5-0 run to tie the game at 34-34.
The teams traded baskets before Colson and Pflueger went on a 7-2 run to put the Irish up 44-40.
Ball State responded with a 7-0 run in just under a minute to retake the lead at 47-44 with 14:37 remaining. Both teams went back-and-forth heading into the under-12 media timeout tied at 50-50. The Cardinals again went on another quick run pushing their lead to 55-50 before the Irish went on their own 6-0 run to take a 56-55 lead after a steal and layup by Colson.
The Cardinals again responded with a tough jumper on the other end to regain the lead 57-56.
Notre Dame found itself down 62-58 with 7:47 left before Persons went on a personal 5-0 run to give the Cardinals a 67-58 lead. The Irish fought back with an 8-2 run behind seven points via Farrell to close the gap to 69-66 with 3:53 left.
Ball State again increased the lead this time up to six points before Farrell knocked down a pair of free throws. The Cardinals responded with a layup. Farrell drove to the lane the next possession and found Gibbs wide open for three and the sophomore connected to make it 75-72 with 1:46 left.
Colson got a layup to fall in to put the Irish back within one with just over a minute to go. Sellers connected on a pair of free throws and gave Ball State a 77-74 lead with 50 seconds left.
Notre Dame struggled to find a shot on the other end, but Pflueger secured an offensive rebound to give the Irish another chance. The ball eventually found Farrell who drilled a three to tie it up 77 apiece with 21 seconds left.
Ball State would then have a chance to have the final possession. And they took advantage.
Persons, who Notre Dame couldn’t stop throughout the 40 minutes, drilled a deep three-pointer over Pflueger with just 1.7 seconds left. Notre Dame didn’t elect to call a timeout and Colson’s desperation three didn’t ball giving the Cardinals the upset win 80-77 in South Bend.
The Cardinals shot 53.1 percent (17-of-32) in the second half to keep Notre Dame from taking control of the game late. Persons finished with 24 points. Notre Dame shot 59.3 percent (16-of-27) in the final 20 minutes, but wasn’t enough to overcome Ball State.
Colson finished with a game-high 26 points. Geben turned in another solid performance going for 12 points and five rebounds in 22 minutes. Farrell, after struggling in the first half, scored 14 points and dished out eight assists. Pflueger (11), Gibbs (8) and Mooney (6) rounded out the scoring.
Ball State out-rebounded the Irish 40-26 including 13-4 on the offensive glass which led to 14 second-chance points.