Ferris Drops Regional Battle Of Ranked Teams

FSU  senior Justin Keenan (pictured) joined senior guard Darien Gay in earning All-Classic honors
FSU senior Justin Keenan (pictured) joined senior guard Darien Gay in earning All-Classic honors

Big Rapids, Mich. - The Ferris State men's basketball team battled nationally 16th-ranked Kentucky Wesleyan on its home floor, but fell short by a 85-73 score in the Owensboro Classic on Saturday (Nov. 27) in Owensboro, Ky.

The Bulldogs, who are ranked 24th in the latest National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Division II poll, trailed 42-34 at halftime before a crowd of 2,100 fans in the final game of the four-team regional event at the Owensboro Sportscenter.

Kentucky Wesleyan jumped its lead to 16 points only five minutes into the second half, but FSU came back to cut the lead to 67-61 with 4:50 to play on two made free throws from senior guard Darien Gay (Detroit/Henry Ford).  The Panthers answered, however, with a bucket and free throw from Cardell McFarland followed by a Kwan Waller layup to stretch the lead back to double-digits and the Bulldogs could not get closer than 10 points the rest of the way.

Ferris opened the contest by scoring the game's first five points and led throughout the first eight minutes before the Panthers chipped away and grabbed their first lead of the night with 12:23 to go in the initial stanza.  KWC never trailed in the final 31 minutes of the contest.

Kentucky Wesleyan shot 57.1% (24-42) from the field for the game and connected on six-of-15 (40%) three-pointers.  They converted 56% of their shots or better in both halves of the game.

Additionally, the Panthers sank 31-of-38 (81.6%) free throws as FSU was whistled for 26 personal fouls.  On the opposite side, Ferris was 17-of-23 (73.9%) at the stripe.

KWC also limited FSU to only 41.7% (25-60) shooting with the Bulldogs making only 13-of-34 (38.2%) field goals in the final 20 minutes.  Ferris hit six-of-23 (26.1%) treys for the game.

The Bulldogs were outrebounded for the game by a 35-25 count despite coming up with 11 offensive boards.  They also forced 21 Panther turnovers and came up with seven steals while turning the ball over only 12 times in the outing.

Gay paced FSU by making 10-of-24 field goal attempts and three-of-10 three-pointers for a team-high 25 points. He also added four assists and two steals.

Gay was joined in double-digits by senior forward/center Justin Keenan (Grand Rapids/Ottawa Hills) with 20 points and seven rebounds on six-of-10 shooting from the floor and an eight-of-nine performance at the free throw line.

Ferris also received seven points apiece from junior forward Jerrell Sanders (Grand Rapids/Creston) and sophomore forward Daniel Sutherlin (Detroit/Renaissance) with senior guard Matt DeHart (Greenville) adding six points on two made three-pointers.

Kentucky Wesleyan, though, had four players reach double-digits in scoring.  Anthony Young netted a game-high 26 points with McFarland adding 20 points, Chris Williams scoring 18 points and Waller contributing 11 points. 

Waller also added seven assists as the Panthers totaled 16 compared to FSU's 10 assists.

With the loss, the Bulldogs dropped to 3-2 overall.  Kentucky Wesleyan remained unbeaten with a 5-0 mark this year and all five wins have came at home.

Ferris State returns home to open Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) play against the Tiffin Dragons on Thursday, Dec. 2, at FSU's Jim Wink Arena.  The men's game of the doubleheader will tipoff first at 6 p.m. (ET) as part of the league's scheduling format with the men playing before the women this season.

Bulldog Bites: Saturday's matchup represented only the second meeting ever between FSU and Kentucky Wesleyan following the Panthers' home win in the 1990 NCAA Tourament at Owensboro ..... Ferris outscored KWC 32-24 in the paint ..... Justin Keenan and Darien Gay were both named to the All-Classic Team following the event and joined by Kentucky Wesleyan's Young and McFlarland along with Robert Wilson of Urbana and Drury's Alex Hall ....... McFarland was tabbed as the event's Most Outstanding Player ...... Drury beat Urbana in Saturday's first game by a 96-72 count.