FSU Drops Regular-Season Finale To WSU

Austin Randel guards WSU's Bryan Wright on Saturday (Photo by Sandy Gholston)
Austin Randel guards WSU's Bryan Wright on Saturday (Photo by Sandy Gholston)

Postgame Audio File:
Head Coach Bill Sall

(MP3 File) - (Windows Media Version)

Big Rapids, Mich. - The Ferris State University men's basketball team lost an opportunity to host a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) Tournament quarterfinal game as the Bulldogs suffered a heart-breaking 85-78 loss to Wayne State in the regular-season finale on Saturday (Feb. 27) afternoon at FSU's Jim Wink Arena.

The loss, combined with Saginaw Valley State's road win at Michigan Tech, means the Bulldogs will now be the fifth-seed for the conference tournament and must travel to SVSU for an opening-round game on Tuesday, March 2. Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m. (EST) at O'Neill Arena in University Center, Mich.

Saturday's loss came before a season-high crowd of 1,800 fans who came out for the "Operation Giveaway" promotion and the annual "Senior Day" game. The Bulldogs honored the senior trio of Austin Randel, Josh Young and Jon Yeazel prior to their final home contests and a number of giveaways, prizes, scholarships and more were distributed as part of the day's activities.

"We didn't do a very good job defensively," said FSU head coach Bill Sall. "We had too many sloppy plays and didn't do a good enough job of what we were capable of doing."

On the floor, Young made the most of his final opportunity to play in front of the home fans early as he scored seven of the squad's first nine points while helping FSU out to a five-point lead only three mintues into the game. He finished with a 16 points in the outing.

Meanwhile, Randel connected on five three-point field goals and totaled 15 points, four assists, three rebounds and two steals. He had nine points in the opening half as the Bulldogs took a three-point lead, 45-42, at the break.

In the second half, however, the Warriors outscored FSU 43-33. Wayne State took the lead for good at 62-61 with 9:55 to play and then went on a 18-7 run to build their largest margin of 10 points with only 2:22 to go. The Bulldogs could get no closer than six points the rest of the way.

FSU shot an impressive 56.4% (31-55) from the floor in the game, including a 61.3% (19-31) figure in the opening half. However, the Bulldogs turned the ball over 18 times and were outrebounded 36-30 by the Warriors.

"Their pressure really hurt us and we struggled against that," Sall said.

WSU connected on 48.3% (29-60) of its field goal tries and was 10-of-21 (47.6%) from beyond the three-point arc compared to 11-of-17 (64.7%) for FSU. The Warriors held an advantage at the free throw line where they made 17-of-23 (73.9%) attempts and the Bulldogs went only five-of-15 (33.3%).

Junior guard Darien Gay led the way for FSU with a team-high 18 points, which included making all four of his three-point tries. In addition to Young and Randel, the Bulldogs had two others in double-digits as junior forward Justin Keenan scored 11 points and Yeazel added 10 points, five rebounds and three assists in his final home game.

On the opposite side, the Warriors were paced by Jerry Oden, who netted 22 points and six rebounds. Bryan Wright added 19 points, nine rebounds and five assists with Bryan Smothers hitting for 17 points and five boards.

The Warriors limited their own mistakes as they finished with only 12 turnovers and held a 24-7 margin in points off miscues. They dished out 16 assists and came up with nine steals and a blocked shot while FSU had 16 assists, seven thefts and six blocks.

Ferris held a 15-5 edge in fast break scoring and a 22-12 advantage in points off the bench, however the Bulldogs were outscored 34-26 in the paint and 26-8 in second chance scoring.

With the loss, FSU drops to 15-12 overall and 13-9 in the GLIAC as the Bulldogs finished in a tie for fourth overall with Saginaw Valley State. The Cardinals owned the deciding tiebreaker advantage with two wins over Ferris State this campaign.

Wayne State improved to 14-12 overall and 12-10 in conference action. The Warriors will be the seventh-seed in the GLIAC Tournament and travel to Grand Valley State for Tuesday's quarterfinals.

"We don't have much of a choice with how it played out," said Sall. "We have to regroup a little bit and get ourselves ready to go. We have to defend and take care of the ball better than we did today."

Bulldog Bites: Wayne State's victory avenged a narrow 54-52 home loss to the Bulldogs in the first meeting this season (Jan. 21) in Detroit ....... The Bulldogs will be making their 11th overall GLIAC Tournament appearance, including their fifth berth in the last six years ...... Austin Randel reached double-figure scoring for the 12th time in his last 14 outings this year and the 10th consecutive contest ......The loss was only FSU's third this season against GLIAC South Division opponents as the Bulldogs dropped to 9-3 against the southern schools.