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Ball State advances to first MAC semifinal in 6 years, faces Akron Friday

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CLEVELAND — Francis Kiapway scored 16 points, Trey Moses posted a double-double and Ball State made 3 of 6 free throws in the final minute in beating Western Michigan 66-63 in the quarterfinals of the Mid-American Conference Tournament on Thursday.

Moses had 11 points and 14 rebounds, Franko House added 14 and nine and Ryan Weber scored 10 points for the Cardinals (21-11), who will take on top-seeded Akron in a Friday semifinal.

Cardinals point guard Tayler Persons was injured midway through the first half, taking a knee to the head from teammate Jeremie Tyler as they were diving for a loose ball. Persons was bleeding as he was helped off the court. Ball State coach James Whitford said after the game that Persons was taken to the hospital for precautionary checks, got several stitches and was in the concussion protocol.

“They did the right thing, they’ve got him getting looked at right now, and making sure everything’s fine,” Whitford said. “And if everything is fine, he will be suiting up and playing tomorrow. The cut is not a big deal. It’s a bunch of stitches, but he’s had plenty of stitches. I don’t think that’s an issue. I think it’s just a matter of getting through the concussion protocol that we’re concerned about.”

Thomas Wilder scored 24 points for the Broncos (16-16), including a 3-pointer with a 1:14 left that tied the game at 63 but missed three shots in the final 45 seconds while three Cardinals made three free throws in three trips to the line in the final minute. Brandon Johnson added 13 points for Western Michigan, which had a nine-game winning streak snapped.

Kiapway scored 10 points in the first half when Ball State took a 38-33 lead. There were six lead changes and three ties in the second half between the MAC West regular-season co-champions.

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