Ferris Men Remain Unbeaten With Home Win

FSU's Justin Keenan drives to the basket versus Lewis (Photo by Ed Hyde, FSU Photo Services)
FSU's Justin Keenan drives to the basket versus Lewis (Photo by Ed Hyde, FSU Photo Services)

Click To Watch Postgame Press Conference -
Head Coach Bill Sall (Video)

Click To Watch Postgame Press Conference -
Williams & Keenan (Video)

Big Rapids, Mich. - The Ferris State University men's basketball squad had its closest test of the season to date, but remained unbeaten with a hard-fought 64-61 non-league victory over Lewis (Ill.) on Saturday (Nov. 20) afternoon at FSU's Jim Wink Arena.

The Bulldogs improved to 3-0 overall with the key regional triumph and avenged a narrow season-opening road setback to the Flyers a season ago.

"We played hard and certainly did some foolish things, but this group of guys kept on fighting," said FSU head coach Bill Sall.  "It easily could have turned into a loss, but we got a victory."

FSU bolted out to a 34-27 halftime edge, but trailed Lewis by a 59-55 count with only 4:19 to play in the contest.  However, the Bulldogs rallied with six points from senior standout Justin Keenan (Grand Rapids/Ottawa Hills) and a triple by sophomore guard Kenny Brown (Farmington Hills/Harrison) in the final four minutes to register the win.

Keenan cut the Flyer lead down to two on two made free throws with four minutes to go.  After a steal by sophomore guard Dontae Molden (Detroit/Pershing), Brown nailed a three-pointer with 3:09 to play, giving FSU a one-point lead.

The Bulldogs increased their advantage to three on a basket from Keenan with 2:14 left before back-to-back free throws from Lewis' Matt Toth made it a one-point game with only 1:48 remaining.

Both teams traded turnovers before Brown missed a three-pointer as the shot clock was winding down with only 30 seconds left.  However, Bulldog senior forward Lou Williams (Muskegon Heights) pulled down two key offensive rebounds in the final 30 seconds, including one on Brown's miss and another after on a free throw when the Flyers began to foul.  

Following Williams' second offensive board late in the game, Keenan gave FSU a three-point lead with only 11.2 seconds left on two made free throws.  The Flyers were never able to get off a game-tying long range attempt.

Keenan, the Division II Bulletin Preseason National Player of the Year, fueled the Bulldogs' win with a game-high 25 points and 12 rebounds.  He also went 11-of-11 at the free throw stripe in 37 minutes of action.

While Keenan was the lone Bulldog in double-digits, Ferris also received eight points from both Molden and junior forward Jerrell Sanders (Grand Rapids/Creston).  Molden dished out three assists and came up with three steals in a solid all-around performance.

On the opposite side, Jeron Lee paced Lewis with 18 points on six-of-13 shooting and hit three treys.  Dennis Thomas, Jr., added 14 points for the Flyers, who dropped to 2-3 overall this campaign.

Ferris State shot 42.3% (22-52) from the floor and made eight-of-20 (40%) three-point tries along with 12-of-15 (80%) free throws.  The Bulldogs also posted a decisive 39-20 rebounding edge against a tall Flyer lineup and had 17 offensive boards compared to only four for the visitors.

The Flyers managed to shot 44.4% (20-45) for the game, including a 11-of-22 (50%) effort in the final period.  They converted six-of-22 (27.3%) tries from beyond the three-point arc and went 15-of-19 (78.9%) at the stripe.

The Bulldogs again distributed the ball well by recording 16 assists with senior guard Darien Gay (Detroit/Henry Ford) dropping five.  Senior guard Matt DeHart (Greenville) added four assists in addition to six points and six rebounds in 18 minutes.

Additionally, the Bulldogs also totaled eight steals and three blocked shots with the Flyers managing eight steals and three blocks as well.  Lewis had nine assists for the game.

Overall, Ferris owned a 16-7 edge in second chance scoring on the strength of its 17 offensive caroms.  The Bulldogs also posted a slim 13-11 advantage on points off turnovers, but Lewis' bench outscored the Bulldog reserves by a 31-13 margin.

"This is a great start for us and I'm very happy with where we are at, but we've still got a long ways to go," Sall said.  "Our guys are starting to understand what it takes to win games."

Ferris State will hit the road for the first time in regular-season action as the Bulldogs travel to Owensboro, Ky., this coming week for the Owensboro Classic hosted by Kentucky Wesleyan on Friday and Saturday (Nov. 26-27).

FSU will face Drury (Mo.) in Friday's (Nov. 26) opening night of play before squaring off against perennial regional power and host Kentucky Wesleyan in Saturday's (Nov. 27) finale at the Owensboro Sports Center.  Both games tipoff at 9 p.m. (ET).

Bulldog Bites: A crowd of 742 fans were on hand for Saturday's action, which was part of a tripleheader as the FSU women's team is also hosting the Bulldog Classic this weekend ..... The game featured eight lead changes and the score was tied twice ...... Ferris played eight in the game and all eight scored at least three points ...... Williams' seven rebounds included six offensive boards ....... FSU finished with 16 turnovers compared to only 11 for the Flyers ...... The victory was Ferris' fourth in series' history versus Lewis as the Flyers now own a 8-4 advantage all-time.