1981 - Ball State finished the season at 20-10 and Mid-American Conference regular-season champs. The Cardinals defeated Northern Illinois 79-66 in the MAC Championship game. Ray McCallum led the Cardinals with 24 points in the final. On the season McCallum, then a sophomore, scored 18.4 points a game. Ball State advanced to its first-ever NCAA Tournament behind the leadership of McCallum, forward Al Gooden and swingman John Williams. The Cardinals played Boston College in the first round at Tuscaloosa, Ala. The Eagles defeated the Cardinals 93-90. McCallum led all scorers with 26 points. Boston College was led by future Cleveland Cavaliers point guard John Bagley who scored 19.
1982 - Ball State finished the season with an 17-11 record, finishing first in the Mid-American Conference regular-season. The Cardinals lost in the MAC final 79-75 in OT to Northern Illinois. Ball State was led by junior Ray McCallum who scored 17.6 points a game. C.C. Fullove averaged 13.7 points a game and John Williams added 11 points a game to help lead the Cardinals.
1983 - Ball State finished the season with a 17-12 record. The Cardinals dropped to third in the MAC standings and lost in the Mid-American Conference tournament second round. Ray McCallum again led the Cardinals with 20.7 points a game, finishing his career as the school's and MAC's all-time leading scorer with 2,109 points. Jon Mansbury added 14.9 points a game and David Scott added 13.3 points for the Cardinals.
1984 - The Cardinals fell to 8-19 on the season. The finished ninth out of 10 teams in the MAC. Only Western Michigan had a worse record at 2-16. The Cardinals were led by Jeff Furlin and Marcus Lacey with 10.6 and 10.2 points a game respectively. Rick Rowray added 9.8 points to the Cardinals cause.
1985 - Ball State rebounded slightly with a 13-16 record. The Cardinals finished in the middle of the MAC pack at 8-10. The Cardinals ended the season with a loss in the second round of the MAC Tournament to Miami, 91-70. The Cardinals were led by junior Dan Palombizio who scored 26.3 points a game and 11 rebounds. Chris Shelton chipped in with 10.3 points a game.
1986 - Ball State finishes the season at 21-10 and third place in the MAC. The Cardinals got on a roll and won the MAC Tournament beating Miami, 87-79. Dan Palombizio was named first team all-MAC leading the team with 20.2 points. Chris Shelton added 13.9 points and Larry Reed had 12.7 for the Cards. Ball State advances to the NCAA Tournament and played 12th ranked Memphis State in Baton Rouge, La. The Tigers crushed the Cardinals 95-63. Palombizio scored 17 points to led the Cardinals. Memphis State was led by future NBA journeyman Vincent Askew with 23 points.
1987 - Ball State fell back to 9-18 on the season. The Cardinals finished last in the MAC with a 4-12 record. Ball State was led by Charles Smith and Derrick Wesley. Smith scored 21.2 points a game and Wesley had 20.7 a game. Freshman Greg Miller, of Yorktown, scored 3 points a game for the Cardinals. After the season Ball State fired head coach Al Brown.
1988 - A new era, a new head coach. Former Marquette head coach Rick Majerus was named head coach. The Cardinals went 14-14 and 8-8 in the MAC. Derrick Wesley was named all-MAC after scoring 20.6 points a game. Greg Miller, the team's most improved player, scored 12.5 points a game. Ball State ended the season with a first-round loss in the MAC Tournament, 80-79, to Western Michigan. After the season Ball State got Arkansas-Little Rock transfers Paris McCurdy and Curtis Kidd.
1989 - Ball State finished the season with a 29-3 record. The Cardinals steam-rolled through the MAC finishing at 14-2. Ball State beat Kent, 67-65, in the MAC Tournament final to advance to the NCAA Tournament. Ball State wins its first-ever NCAA Tournament game beating Pittsburgh 68-64. McCurdy had 18 points and Kidd added 15. The Cardinals would lose in the second round to Illinois 72-60. Ball State was led by Kidd's 16 points and McCurdy's 15. Illinois was led by future NBA players Nick Anderson and Kendall Gill. Anderson had 24 points and Gill 17. Ball State's balanced scoring attack was led by Curtis Kidd, Billy Butts (a Muncie North product), Paris McCurdy and Greg Miller. Kidd scored 14 points a game, Butts had 11.8 points, McCurdy 11.7 points and Miller 9.2.
1990 - The greatest season in Cardinal Hoops history. Ball State finished the season 26-7 and 13-3 in the MAC led by first-year head coach Dick Hunsaker. Ball State won the MAC Tournament crown beating Central Michigan 78-56 in the final. Ball State advanced to the NCAA Tounament as a 12th seed. The Cardinals upset No. 4 seed Oregon State 54-53 in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Cardinals triumph on a last-second shot by senior forward Paris McCurdy. BSU was led by super soph Chandler Thompson (of Muncie Central) with 24 points. The Cardinals defense led by Scott Nichols and McCurdy shut down high-scoring Gary Payton. The NCAA Player of the Year fouled out with 5 minutes to go having scored only 11 points. In the second round, the Cardinals continued their Cinderella Run with a 62-60 victory over No. 4 seed Louisville. Ball State was again led by Thompson who scored 15 points including a thunderous dunk on Louisville's LaBradford Smith. Billy Butts also scord 15 points. Louisville was led by Felton Spencer's 14 points and 12 rebounds. The Cardinals made their first-ever Sweet 16 apperance a memorable one with a near upset of No. 1 UNLV, the eventual national champions. Ball State lost the game 69-67 which was the closest anyone came to defeating the Running Rebels in that season. Ball State was led by Thompson's 21 points and highlight reel dunks and McCurdy added 17. UNLV was led by future NBA stars Larry Johnson and Stacey Augmon with 20 points each. McCurdy (right) and guard Chandler Thompson (left) led the Cardinals throughout the season and into the NCAA tournament.
1991 - The Cardinals moved into the newly-built University arena. The Cardinals finished the season at 21-10, but lost in the MAC Tournament to Toledo, 62-61. The Cardinals were led by Emanuel Cross and Chandler Thompson with 15.6 and 15.4 points a game respectively. The Cardinals lost to Cincinnati in the NIT first round, 82-55. Ball State was led by Chandler Thompson's 16 and Emanuel Cross's 12. UC was led by Lou Banks 19.
1992 - Ball State finished the season at 24-9. The Cardinals were 11-5 in the MAC. Ball State was led by Keith Stallings 13.2 points a game. Chandler Thompson added 11.2 points. Ball State lost in the MAC final to Miami, 58-57. Ball State lost in the NIT first round to former head coach Rick Majerus's Utah Utes, 72-57. Bill Gillis led the Cardinals with 22 points. Byron Wilson led the Utes with 15 points.
1993 - Ball State finished at 26-8 and were first place finishers in the MAC. The Cardinals won the MAC Tournament 79-64 over Western Michigan. BSU was led by Jeermal Sylvester's 14.1 points a game. Steve "House of" Payne added 12.4 points and 9.9 rebounds a game. The Cardinals made it to the Big Dance again and lost in the first round the Kansas JayHawks, 94-72. Ball State by Sylvester and Jamie Matthews with 18. Kansas was led by future NBA journeyman Rex Walters with 23 points.
1994 - Ball State finished 16-12 and fourth place in the MAC with a respectible 11-7 record. The Cardinals were led by Steve Payne's 20.5 points and 11 rebounds a game. Jeermal Sylvester added 16.6 points a game. The Cards lost to Ohio, 79-70, in the MAC Final. Dick Hunsaker was replaced by former Cardinal great Ray McCallum after the season.
1995 - Ray McCallum's first year at the helm of the Cardinals was a successful one. The Cardinals finished the year with a 19-11 record and a 11-7 record in the MAC. The Cardinals caught fire and won the MAC Tournament beating Eastern Michigan, 79-70 in the Final. Ball State was led by senior Steve Payne, Marcus Norris and freshman sensation Bonzi Wells (from Muncie Central). Payne averaged 17.3 points and 9.4 rebounds a game. Wells had 15.8 points a game and Norris chipped in with 15. Ball State made its sixth apperance in the Big Dance. The Cardinals lost in the first round to the NCAA Tournament to Arizona State 81-66. Ball State was led by Bonzi Wells 16 points. Arizona State was led by Ron Riley's 24 points. Wells was named MAC freshman of the year.
1996 - Ball State finished with a 16-12 record. Ball State finished fourth in the MAC with an 11-7 record. Bonzi Wells scored 25.4 points and 8.8 rebounds a game including seven games of 30 points or more. LaSalle Thompson chipped in 12.1 points a game. Ball State lost to Eastern Michigan in the second round of the MAC Tournament, 87-71. Marcus Mason was named MAC Freshman of the year.
1997 - Ball State finished the season 16-13 and 9-9 in the MAC. Ball State was led by Bonzi Wells again with 20 a game. Freshman Duane Clemens (a Muncie South product) chipped in with 9.9 points a game. Ball State's season ended with a first round loss to Eastern Michigan, 85-75, in the MAC Tournament. Ball State did defeat the Big Ten's Wisconsin Badgers, 74-59, behind Wells's 19 points.
1998 - Ball State senior forward Bonzi Wells broke the Mid-American Conference scoring record. Wells broke Ron Harper's record of 2,377 points in a single-season on a one-handed dunk against Northern Illinois on February 21st. The dunk sent the sell-out crowd at University Aren into a frenzy. A timeout was immediately called and Wells was awarded the game ball by Ball State president John Worthen.
"It's big for me," Wells said, "I never thought coming from a small town, that I'd be able to break a record like I have. It was tremendous for me, and it was a lot to take in."
Wells ended his career at Ball State with 2,485 points. He also led the conference in steals in 1998 with 73, averaging 3.55 steals in 29 games. Wells led the conference in steals during all four years at Ball State. For his career Wells had a total of 347 steals.
The Cardinals finished the year 21-8 and a 14-4 first place finish in the MAC West. Ball State lost in the semifinal of the MAC Tournament in a controversial 93-92 OT decision to an Earl Boykins led Eastern Michigan team. The Cardinals were also snubbed by the NCAA who opted for Western Michigan whom the Cardinals had beaten twice that season and had lost in the first round of the MAC Tournament. Ball State was led by Wells, Lamont Roland and Duane Clemens. Roland had 12.1 points and Clemens 10.6 points. Ball State lost in the first round of the NIT to Memphis, 90-67. Clemens and Mitch Hankins led the Cardinals with 10 points and a flu-ridden Wells chipped in nine. Memphis was led by Keldrick Bradford with 27. The highlight of the season was a shocking 72-70 upset of 12 ranked Mississippi in the CVC Classic at BSU. After the season, Bonzi Wells, a third-team all-American, was drafted by the Detroit Pistons with the 11th pick, later Wells was traded to the Portland TrailBlazers.
1999 - Ball State finished the season 15-11 and 10-8 in the MAC. The Cardinals were led by junior guard Duane Clemens's 16.3 points a game. Marcus Mason chipped in 9.4. Ball State lost in the MAC Tournament first round, 69-43, to a Wally Szczerbiak-led Miami RedHawks team. The young, talent-laden Cardinals defeated Big Ten power Michigan, 75-64 in the first game of the season and gave Indiana University fits in losing 72-62 in the Hoosier Classic at Market Square Arena.
2000 - Ball State finished the season 22-9 and 11-7 in the and were MAC West champions. Ball State began the season with a loss to eventual Final Four participant Wisconsin. Ball State defeated Purdue 72-52 in the first collegiate game in Conseco Fieldhouse. Ball State also defeated NCAA Tournament bound Butler and Indiana State. The Cardinals set a school-record for three-point field goals made behind the sharpshooting of Duane Clemens, Mickey Hosier, Shane Franks, Cedric Moodie, Tee Smith and Petie Jackson. Ball State set a national record by playing back-to-back triple-OT games. Ball State ran off an impressive 10 consecutive victory string and made several appearences in the college basketball polls. Ball State won the MAC Tournament with a 61-58 victory over Miami. The Cardinals were led by Clemens with 18.7 points a game. Clemens finished his Cardinal career as the sixth all-time leading scorer and second all-time in steals. Freshman Theron Smith chipped in 12.2 points a game and 7.7 rebounds and was named MAC Freshman of the Year. Ball State made its first trip back to the NCAA Tournament in 5 long years. The Cardinals played in Minneapolis, Minn. against UCLA. The Cardinals lost to the bigger Bruins. Ball State was led by Clemens who scored 16 points and set a NCAA Tournament record with 8 steals. Moodie chipped in 15 points. Ball State led at the half 26-22.
Duane Clemens was drafted by the Florida SeaDragons of the USBL in the second round after the season.
A week after the Clemens draft selection, Cardinal head coach Ray McCallum (7th season at BSU) announces he will take the head coaching position at the University of Houston. McCallum leaves Ball State as the school's second all-time winningest coach with 126 wins and 76 losses (.624), he trailed only Jim Hinga who had 154 wins and 169 losses (.477). McCallum was the only player in Ball State athletic history to have his number (10) retired.
On May 17th Marquette head coach Tim Buckley is hired as the new head coach at Ball State. Buckley was previously a assistant coach under current University of Houston head coach Ray McCallum. A new era of Ball State basketball shines in the city of Muncie.
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