Second-Half Start Fuels Men's Home Win

FSU's Darien Gay guards the ball in Thursday's victory (Photo by Ed Hyde)
FSU's Darien Gay guards the ball in Thursday's victory (Photo by Ed Hyde)

Big Rapids, Mich. – An impressive 26-8 run in the first nine minutes of the second half lifted the Ferris State University men’s basketball squad to an 82-72 home win over visiting Ashland on Thursday (Dec. 3) evening inside Jim Wink Arena and enabled the Bulldogs to remain unbeaten in Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) action.

After recording a dominating 67-41 league home win over nationally-ranked archrival Grand Valley State in the conference opener on Monday (Nov. 30) night, Ferris got off to a slow start in the opening half versus the Eagles.

Ashland led by as many as 12 points in the first frame and took a 37-30 halftime advantage after shooting 53.6% (15-28) in the initial period and limiting the Bulldogs to only a 37.9% (11-29) figure.

The second half was a different story for most of the way, though, as the Bulldogs forced 12 second-half turnovers and shot 64.5% (20-31) from the field over the final 20 minutes to improve to 2-3 overall and 2-0 in the GLIAC.

Ferris received contributions from a number of individuals in posting the league home triumph. Junior forward/center Justin Keenan made six-of-seven field goal attempts for the game and connected on nine-of-14 free throws to finish with a game-high 21 points.

Meanwhile, senior guard Austin Randel scored 16 points, had four steals and dished out three assists in helping the Bulldogs battle back to earn the victory. Junior guard Darien Gay contributed 12 points and had 10 assists in a double-double effort directing the offense. He also added five rebounds and two steals. Freshman forward Daniel Sutherlin also reached double-figures in his first career start with a personal-high 10 points and six rebounds.

Ferris made 31-of-60 (51.7%) field goal tries on the night and hit five-of-10 (50%) three-pointers to go with 15-of-23 (65.2%) free throws. The Bulldogs were outrebounded 34-30 by the bigger Eagle lineup, but FSU handed out 21 assists and came up with 15 steals and five blocked shots on the defensive end.

The Eagles cooled off in the second half against Ferris’ defensive effort and shot 49.1% (26-53) for the game. They made only one-of-11 (9.1%) field goal attempts and were 19-of-27 (70.4%) from the free throw stripe. AU had 15 assists, 11 steals and five blocks in the contest.

Three Eagles players reached double-digits with Bylynn Hatcher posting a team-best 19 points and nine rebounds. Junior Kale Richardson was limited to 10 points and six boards while guard Micah Fraction netted 15 points.

Ferris forced a total of 21 Eagle turnovers and outscored the visitors 29-21 in points off miscues. FSU was outscored in the paint 40-30, however the Bulldogs sprinted to 19 fast break points compared to only 12 for Ashland.

Ferris State concludes its three-game league homestand by hosting Tiffin on Saturday (Dec. 5) afternoon with tipoff set for 2 p.m. (EST) inside Wink Arena. The game will be part of a tripleheader at the FSU Sports Complex with the women’s game prior to the men’s contest at noon and the Bulldog hockey team hosting Nebraska-Omaha after the outing at 5:05 p.m. (EST).

Bulldog Bites: FSU’s Justin Keenan has now scored 19 points or more in each of his last three meetings against the Eagles …… Ferris improved to 12-6 all-time versus Ashland and has now won six of the last seven meetings … FSU head coach Bill Sall improved to 8-2 in his career against the Eagles with the victory …… The loss was Ashland’s fourth-straight series’ setback inside Wink Arena. Au has not defeated the Bulldogs in Big Rapids since the 2001-02 campaign …… Junior forward Lou Williams notched his 300th career point in the contest for FSU ……… Darien Gay moved into 12th place on the school’s career assists chart and currently has 243 career assists to date …… FSU built a lead as large as 22 points with 4:13 to play before the Eagles cut it down to 10 at the end.