Ferris Tops MTU To Reach GLIAC Title Game

FSU's Matt DeHart drives against MTU's Ali Haidar in the semifinal game (Photo courtesy Ed Hyde, FSU Photo Services)
FSU's Matt DeHart drives against MTU's Ali Haidar in the semifinal game (Photo courtesy Ed Hyde, FSU Photo Services)

Post Game Press Conference Video:
FSU Head Coach Bill Sall

Brown, Keenan, and Sutherlin
MTU Head Coach Luke and forward Haidar

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Big Rapids, Mich. - The Ferris State University men's basketball team advanced to the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) Tournament Championship game with a 73-64 semifinal win over fourth-seeded Michigan Tech on Saturday (March 5) afternoon at FSU's Jim Wink Arena.

The top-seeded Bulldogs will square off against third-seeded Wayne State in Sunday's (March 6) final at 2 p.m. (ET) in Big Rapids.  The Warriors defeated second-seeded Findlay in the second semifinal by an identical 73-64 margin.

Tickets will be sold on Sunday starting at 12 p.m. (ET) at the FSU Athletics Ticket Office located inside the Ewigleben Sports Complex and the doors to Wink Arena will open at 1 p.m. (ET).  Tickets for are $8 for adults or $2 for all students older than age five, including college students with identification. All seats are general admission and no regular-season passes of any type such as FSU Rebounders Club or all-sports passes will be accepted per league tournament regulations.

Ferris State had to battle its way into the title contest as Michigan Tech stayed close much of the way.  The Huskies led by four points midway thru the first half before the Bulldogs came back to take an eight-point halftime advantage.

However, Michigan Tech scored the first seven points of the second period and took a 41-40 lead with 14:50 remaining.  Ferris regained the advantage at 45-44 with 12:46 to play and never trailed the rest of the way.  MTU cut a seven-point Bulldog edge down to three points with 2:26 remaining before Ferris answered by scoring eight-straight points, including six from the free throw line to salt the game away.

FSU reached the GLIAC Tournament Championship game for the first time since the 2005-06 campaign and will be making its fourth-ever appearance in the title contest. Ferris has claimed the league tournament crown only once before in the 1997-98 season.

Ferris proved it's more than just a one-man team in the semifinal game as the Huskies limited two-time GLIAC Player of the Year Justin Keenan (Grand Rapids/Ottawa Hills) to only nine points in 24 minutes of action.  With Keenan sidelined for part of the contest due to foul trouble, the Bulldogs relied heavily on their bench, which outscored the MTU reserves by a 30-5 count.

Sophomore guard Kenny Brown (Farmington Hills/Harrison) tallied a team-high tying 13 points off the bench with a fellow reserve in sophomore forward Daniel Sutherlin (Detroit/Renaissance) adding 12 points in the winning effort.  Senior guard Matt DeHart (Greenville) paced FSU with team-high tying marks in both points and rebounds with 13 and six, respectively.

Ferris State also received nine points, seven assists, six rebounds and two steals in a solid all-around outing from senior guard Darien Gay (Detroit/Henry Ford) while both senior forward Lou Williams (Muskegon Heights) and sophomore guard Dontae Molden (Detroit/Pershing) chipped in six points apiece.  FSU sophomore guard Brandyn Mungo (Westland/Detroit Renaissance) contributed five points off the bench in seven minutes.

The team effort helped offset a game-high showing from Michigan Tech's Ali Haidar, who finished with 25 points and eight rebounds.  Mike Hojnacki added nine points and a contest-best 10 rebounds with Jordan Reetz also scoring nine points.

Ferris State limited MTU to 42.3% (22-52) shooting, including only a 37.9% (11-29) figure in the first half of play.  The Bulldogs also forced 18 turnovers and held a 25-13 edge in points off miscues. Additionally, the Bulldogs managed to total 10 second chance points compared to only three for MTU despite being outrebounded 37-31 for the day.

Offensively, FSU shot 44.2% (23-52) from the floor and made eight-of-18 (44.4%) three-pointers, including three from both DeHart and Brown.  The Bulldogs also converted 19-of-27 (70.4%) free throws and had only 12 turnovers.

MTU finished six-of-14 (42.9%) beyond the three-point stripe and 14-of-19 (73.7%) at the line as they wrapped up their season with an 18-11 overall record.  The Huskied had entered the tournament as the number six overall seed before taking out Grand Valley State on the road in quartefinal action on Wednesday.

FSU came up with 15 assists, 13 steals and a blocked shot. Meanwhile, Michigan Tech had 13 assists, six thefts and a single block in the contest.  Molden had a game-high six steals for the Bulldogs in the victory.

The win helped solidify the Bulldogs' NCAA Division II Tournament hopes as FSU improved to 22-6 overall and has currently won 14 of its last 15 outings this campaign. The top eight teams make the NCAA-II Midwest Regional field when the official announcement is made Sunday evening at 10 p.m. (ET) on www.ncaa.com.

Sunday's GLIAC Tournament Championship game winner receives the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Bulldog Bites: The game featured 11 lead changes and the score was tied three times ..... The two teams had previously split two regular-season meetings with each winning at home ..... Michigan Tech outscored FSU 24-20 in the paint ...... Ferris State is serving as the host of the league tournament's final four teams for only the second time in school history and first time since 1994-95 ....... FSU improved to 10-13 all-time in GLIAC Tournament play .... Ferris has now won 10 of its last 16 matchups against Michigan Tech ...... Saturday's game marked only the second time all season Justin Keenan has failed to reach double-figures in scoring ...... The win was FSU's second in three all-time GLIAC Tournament meetings with the Huskies.