Ferris Men Dominate GVSU In League Opener

FSU's Darien Gay handles the ball in Monday's decisive Bulldog victory (Pioneer Photo)
FSU's Darien Gay handles the ball in Monday's decisive Bulldog victory (Pioneer Photo)

Big Rapids, Mich. – The Ferris State men’s basketball team couldn’t have picked a better way to start Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) play.

The Bulldogs, who were picked to finish second in the 2009-10 GLIAC North Division Preseason Media Poll, dominated divisional preseason favorite and nationally-ranked archrival Grand Valley State by a 67-41 count before a crowd of 1,280 home fans on Monday (Nov. 30) evening at Jim Wink Arena in Big Rapids.

FSU gave up only 16 first-half points to the 18th-ranked Lakers in taking a decisive 33-16 halftime edge during the “Big Monday” encounter. The Bulldogs increased the margin to as many as 27 points with 14:36 to play in the contest and outscored GVSU 34-25 over the final 20 minutes.

The win was the first of the season for the Bulldogs, who opened the year with three tough non-conference road losses, including a setback at NCAA Division I Central Michigan.

"The first half, we did a tremendous job plugging the paint from all sides and really did a nice job," said Ferris head coach Bill Sall. "They missed some shots, which was great for us. We struggled a little rebounding, but because of our defense, we got in a flow getting up and down the floor."

Ferris shot 51.2% (21-41) for the game and limited the Lakers to only 33.3% (17-51) shooting. FSU also forced 19 Laker turnovers and took care of the ball offensively in finishing with only nine of their own. The Bulldogs’ ability to force miscues and limit their own led to a decisive 25-5 edge in points off turnovers for the game.

FSU was also able to get to the free throw line as the Bulldogs hit 18-of-26 (69.2%) free throws compared to only three-of-11 (27.3%) for the Lakers. Behind the three-point line, Ferris connected on seven-of-14 (50%) tries with GVSU hitting four-of-21 (19%) beyond the arc.

Junior preseason All-America forward/center Justin Keenan paced the Bulldogs with a game-high tying 15 points and seven rebounds in 32 minutes of action. He made only one field goal for the game, but converted 13-of-18 (69.2%) free throws.

Junior guard Darien Gay, who joined Keenan as one of two Bulldog players on the preseason all-conference team, added 13 points in a balanced Bulldog attack. Nine of the 10 Bulldog players who saw action scored in the contest and eight scored five points or more.

FSU sophomore guard Dontae Molden had his best outing of the season in directing the Bulldog offense as he tallied a game-high eight assists and came up with five points and three steals. Gay chipped in with three assists as the Bulldogs finished with 13 dimes compared to 11 for the Lakers.

Reed City native Justin Ringler led Grand Valley State with 15 points and a contest-high 14 rebounds in a double-double effort, but he also turned the ball over six times and was the lone Laker player to finish in double-figures. His effort on the boards helped GVSU post a 36-26 rebounding margin.

Defensively, the Bulldogs finished with 11 steals and three blocked shots while GVSU had only a single block and three thefts for the game.

"Our starting five played hard and when we susbustituted we never lost any momentum," Sall said. "We kept the effort going."

Grand Valley State fell to 2-2 overall with the loss.

The Bulldogs continue a three-game homestand this week with a pair of league games against Ashland on Thursday (Dec. 3) and Tiffin on Saturday (Dec. 5) at Wink Arena. Game times are set for 8 p.m. (EST) on Thursday with Saturday’s outing starting at 2 p.m. (EST).

Bulldog Bites: The win was FSU’s fourth in its last five conference openers …….. FSU improved to 48-45 all-time against Grand Valley State with the win …… Justin Keenan was honored prior to the contest for becoming the 26th player in school history to register his 1,000th career point earlier this year ……… Ferris has now won six of its last eight home openers following the win ……… Three FSU players connected on two three-point baskets, including senior guard Austin Randel, junior guard Matt DeHart and Darien Gay ……… Freshman forward Daniel Sutherlin got the crowd excited late in the first half with an alley-oop dunk off a pass from Gay, which helped fuel a 8-0 run that increased FSU’s lead from six points to 14 points ……… Ferris scored 13 of the final 15 points of the first half ……… The Bulldogs held a 14-2 edge in fast break points and the FSU reserves outscored GVSU’s bench by a 23-11 count ……… Grand Valley’s last lead came with 12:33 left in the first half … It marked the second consecutive year the Bulldogs have beat GVSU in Wink Arena.