Persons, a Northern Kentucky transfer, finished with 24 points on 10-for-19 shooting to lead the Cardinals to their first win over Notre Dame in 10 all-time meetings. The game marked the first time Ball State (5-4) beat a Top 25 opponent since it knocked off No. 4 UCLA on Nov. 20, 2001.
Notre Dame (7-2) lost for the second time in the past three games. The Fighting Irish entered the game as nearly 20-point favorites over their in-state opponent but instead dropped to 3-1 at home.
Persons raised his arms after drilling the go-ahead shot from several feet past the arc. He stepped back against Notre Dame guard Rex Pflueger and hit the deep attempt with the score tied at 77 and a possible overtime session looming.
The Fighting Irish trailed by six points with 1:47 left when guard T.J. Gibbs made a 3-pointer to pull Notre Dame within 75-72. On the next time down the court, Irish forward Bonzie Colson made a layup to trim the deficit to 75-74 with 1:15 remaining. Guard Matt Farrell evened the score at 77 when he made a 3-pointer from the right wing with 24 seconds to go.
Notre Dame opened the second half on a 12-4 run to transform a five-point deficit into a 41-38 lead with 17:13 to play. Pflueger scored eight points during the run.
However, Ball State was undeterred by Notre Dame's outburst. The Cardinals battled back to go ahead 67-58 with 6:47 to play after Persons scored seven straight points for his team on a pair of jump shots and a 3-pointer.
Ball State led 34-29 at halftime. The Cardinals led by eight points with six minutes to go before the break, but the Fighting Irish closed the gap with a 7-0 run that included a three-point conversion by Martinas Geben.
Colson paced the Irish with 26. Farrell scored 14, Geben 12 and Pflueger 11.
Ball State got 13 points and eight rebounds from Tahjai Teague and 11 points from Sean Sellers.
NOTES: Ball State visited Notre Dame for the first time since 1976. ... The Fighting Irish were the highest-ranked opponent the Cardinals have played since they faced No. 1 Indiana on Nov. 25, 2012. ... Notre Dame was outrebounded 40-26. ... Notre Dame F Bonzie Colson missed all four of his 3-point attempts but hit 10 of 19 shots from the floor overall.