Keith Shivers' basket with 43 seconds left gave Coppin State (0-6) its only lead of the game at 77-76 before Persons converted his three-point play with 28 seconds remaining.
Trey Moses then blocked a shot by Shivers, and the Cardinals' Sean Sellers got the rebound and was fouled. Sellers missed two free throws, however, giving the Eagles a final chance, but Dejuan Clayton missed a contested, left-handed layup as time ran out.
All of Persons' points came in the second half. Moses pulled down a career-high 16 rebounds to go with five assists, four blocks and four points. Sellers added 16 points for Ball State (3-2).
The game was part of the MGM Grand Main Event "middleweight division."
Shivers had a career-high 26 points and nine rebounds.
Southern Illinois 73, Mount St. Mary's 63: Armon Fletcher scored a career-high 19 points, Thik Bol added a career-high 16 points with 12 rebounds, and the Salukis (3-2) rallied to beat the visiting Mountaineers (1-4) for their third straight win.
Trailing 36-35 after eight first-half lead changes, SIU rallied to a 42-39 lead on Leo Vincent's 3-pointer, then pulled ahead 48-41 on Aaron Cook's 3 with 11:48 left in the second half.
Junior guard Junior Robinson led the Mountaineers with 18 points and made four of eight 3-pointers. Will Miller finished with 15 points, and Elijah Long (John Carroll) added 11.
Pittsburgh 74, Loyola Maryland 44: The host Panthers (4-0) outscored the Greyhounds 21-2 in the second quarter and went on to a commanding nonconference win.
Loyola (2-3) freshman guard Alexis Gray scored nine of her team-high 11 points in the first quarter, including three 3-pointers. Her 11 points also were a career high.
Bowie State 58, Puerto Rico-Bayamon 51: The host Bulldogs won their second straight game and improved to 3-1 on the year after edging the Liga Atletica Interuniversitaria de Puerto Rico school.
Senior Denver Clyde (North County) had 13 points and 11 rebounds, and junior Kyah Proctor added 10 points to lead Bowie State against Puerto Rico-Bayamon (2-3).
UMES senior guard Mariah McCoy finished with a game-high 24 points and had six 3-pointers, while Chelsea Nelson had 19 points for the Wolfpack (4-0), which outscored the Hawks 19-7 in the opening period.