Bulldog Men Fall To GVSU Before Record Crowd

The Bulldogs' Matt DeHart and Daniel Sutherlin trap the ball against GVSU (Photo by Ed Hyde)
The Bulldogs' Matt DeHart and Daniel Sutherlin trap the ball against GVSU (Photo by Ed Hyde)

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(Players: Darien Gay, Justin Keenan & Coach Bill Sall)

Big Rapids, Mich. - For the second time this season, the Ferris State University men's basketball team went to overtime in another instant classic against archrival Grand Valley State.  

This time around, however, it was the Lakers who prevailed by a 82-80 overtime count on Saturday (Feb. 26) in the regular-season finale for both squads played in front of a Wink Arena record 2,443 fans at Big Rapids.

The Lakers avenged an earlier 79-72 extra session setback to the Bulldogs in the "131 Showdown" played on Jan. 29 at Van Andel Arena before 5,863 fans in Grand Rapids.

Ferris State, which had already claimed the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) North Division Championship, saw its 12-game winning streak snapped and the loss was FSU's first this season in 13 outings at Wink Arena.  Ferris entered the contest ranked 21st nationally in this week's National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Division II Poll along with third in the NCAA-II Midwest Regional Rankings.

The Bulldogs will next host a GLIAC Tournament Quarterfinal game on Wednesday, March 2, against Saginaw Valley State at 7 p.m. (ET).  Ferris State has also secured the league's number one seed despite the setback and would host the league tournament semifinals/finals on March 5-6 by winning the quarterfinal game.

Grand Valley State jumped out to a 10-point lead only three minutes into the contest before the Bulldogs battled back and were able to knot the game up at 34 points apiece at halftime.

Ferris scored the first basket of the second half to grab its largest lead of the game at 36-34, but GVSU quickly came back and led by nine points with 8:18 remaining.  FSU responded each time the Lakers appeared to have the game in hand as the Bulldogs fought back from a five-point deficit with 1:26 to go in regulation.

The Lakers led by three points when Bulldog senior guard Darien Gay (Detroit/Henry Ford) was fouled with 15 secconds left on a three-point try.  He made all three free throws and the Lakers could not find the basket in the closing seconds as the contest went to overtime.

In the extra period, GVSU seized control by taking a five-point edge with 2:58 to play.  The Bulldogs fought back and held a 76-75 edge with one minute left before GVSU's Breland Hogan knocked down a pair of free throws to push the Lakers back in front.

A layup from Gay gave Ferris the lead once more with 47 seconds to go, but Grand Valley State's James Thomas hit perhaps the game's biggest shot with a three-pointer from the corner with 30 seconds left.  Gay then connected on what appeared was ruled a two-point shot from the top of the circle to tie it back up with 16 seconds remaining.

The Lakers milked the clock and Hogan hit a shot off the glass at the final horn to lift the Lakers to the win.

"That's what rivalry games should be about - hard fought, down to the wire and good games," said FSU head coach Bill Sall.  "Down there, we made one more play than they did and today they made one more play than us so that's how it goes."

The loss spoiled the Bulldogs' annual Senior Day game that saw four starters recognized prior to their final regualar-season home games.  One of the Bulldogs' four seniors, Gay had one of the most productive games of his career with a contest-high 31 points to go with five assists.

He was joined in double-figures by fellow senior standout Justin Keenan (Grand Rapids/Ottawa Hills), who totaled 18 points and nine rebound despite often being swarmed by the Lakers at the offensive end.  He scored his first point on a made free throw at the 14:54 mark of the first half to officially become the GLIAC's all-time leading scorer after entering the game tied with former Laker standout John Flynn of the league's top career honor.

The Bulldogs also received 12 points and eight rebounds off the bench from sophomore forward Daniel Sutherlin (Detroit/Renaissance).  FSU's other two seniors, Matt DeHart (Greenville) and Lou Williams (Muskegon Heights), finished with eight points and four points, respectively.  DeHart also grabbed seven rebounds.

On the opposite side, however, Hogan tallied 27 points for the Lakers and Thomas added 20 as both sank four three-pointers in the win.

Both teams shot 46% for the game as FSU made 25-of-54 field goals and the Lakers converted 28-of-60 tries.  GVSU was eight-of-20 (40%) beyond the arc and 18-of-24 (75%) at the free throw line in comparison to FSU's seven-of-18 (38.9%) long range effort and 23-of-31 (74.2%) showing at the stripe.

The rebounding totals were also close as the Lakers held a slim 35-34 edge and grabbed 14 offensive boards compared to FSU's 13 caroms.  The Bulldogs turned the ball over two more times than GVSU with a 16-14 margin.

Ferris State dished out 15 assists with junior guard Dontae Molden (Detroit/Pershing) netting six helpers to go with Gay's five.  The Bulldogs also had six steals and five blocked shots.  Meanwhile, GVSU managed 11 assists, six steals and five blocks as well.

The Lakers posted a 32-20 advantage in scoring inside the paint and outscored FSU 25-18 off turnovers.  Ferris did its work on the glass with a 20-13 edge in second chance scoring.

Overall, the game featured eight lead changes and the score was tied 12 times.

Grand Valley State improved to 19-7 overall and concluded league regular-season play with a 14-5 mark while FSU dropped to 20-6 overall and 16-3 in the GLIAC.  GVSU must await tonight's results to figure out its postseason plans.

Advance tickets for Wednesday night's quarterfinal game will be on sale at the FSU Athletics Ticket Office on Monday and Tuesday from 9 a.m. (ET) with expanded hours to 7 p.m. (ET).  The box office will also open on Wednesday at 9 a.m. (ET) with ticket sales leading up to game time.

Ticket prices are $8 for adult general admission or $2 for all students, including college students with identification.  No passes of any type will be accepted per league tournament regulations, including FSU Rebounders Club or all-sports passes.  All tickets are based on availability.  For more information, please contact the FSU Athletics Ticket Office at (231) 591-2888.

Bulldog Bites: The record crowd of 2,443 fans topped the previous mark of 2,430 fans who attended the Bulldogs' matchup with GVSU three years ago (2/23/08).  Four of the five largest crowds in the building's 12-year history have came during the rivalry matchup ....... Ferris State held a special "1,000 Wins Celebration" at halftime to commemorate the program's 1,000th victory earlier this year and more than 40 former players and staff were on hand to be recognized ........ Ferris still holds a narrow 49-47 all-time series' advantage versus GVSU ...... The two teams had split the last six matchups entering the contest ...... Ferris played eight in the game compared to GVSU's 11 players ...... Ferris made five-of-six (83.3%) field goals in overtime despite losing as the Lakers converted four-of-six (66.7%) tries and hit five-of-five (100%) free throws.