Contributor - Cody Carlson
Big Rapids, Mich. – The nationally-ranked Ferris State University men's basketball team extended its win streak to 11 consecutive games and stayed unbeaten in conference play with a 82-65 win over Malone on Thursday night (Jan. 8) at Jim Wink Arena.
The Bulldogs moved to 11-2 overall and stayed tied atop the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) standings at 7-0 with the double-digit league triumph to open a two-game homestand.
In the third-ever series' matchup between the two squads, the Pioneers kept the margin close and led by as many as four points in the first half of play with 12:16 to go before FSU fought back to grab a 35-27 lead at the break.
The Bulldogs played sharp in the second half as they raced out to a double-digit lead and never looked back while outscoring Malone 47-38 over the final 20 minutes of action. FSU led by as many as 19 points with 2:05 to go en route to the victory.
Senior guard Drew Lehman, who was honored prior to the contest for scoring his 1,000th career point earlier this year, continued his outstanding play by producing a game-high 18 points for the Bulldogs with 10 of them coming in the first half. He also added three assists in the win.
Along with Lehman, FSU had three other starters reach double-figure scoring. Junior forward Josh Fleming added 18 points along with nine rebounds in a near double-double performance. Meanwhile, senior guard Dietrich Lever chipped in 11 points and junior forward James Chappell scored 10 points.
Junior center Jared Stolicker also nearly reached a double-double as he poured in nine points and pulled down a game-high 12 rebounds while also recording six blocked shots in the win.
Additionally, five other Bulldogs scored in the win and 10 of the 11 players who saw action scored in the contest for FSU.
Lever dished out a team-best seven assists and tallied four steals to aid the Bulldog cause while Chappell totaled three blocked shots and dished out a pair of helpers. Junior guard Jibreel Jackson came off the bench to post three assists and seven points while Fleming also notched two dimes.
FSU shot 50% for the game and hit five-of-18 (27.8%) three's to go with a 13-of-21 (61.9%) showing at the free throw stripe. The Bulldogs shot 45% or better in both halves, including a 54.8% effort over the final 20 minutes of action.
Meanwhile, Malone finished with a 47.3% overall percentage and the Pioneers connected on six-of-16 (37.5%) from beyond the arc along with 7-of-10 (70%) at the line.
Nate Sheppard totaled 14 points off the bench in leading Malone with all of his scoring coming in the second half of play. Ben Haraway chipped in 10 points for the Pioneers, but those were the only two players to reach double-digit scoring.
Ferris State dominated the glass 40-26 for the night and came up with 20 offensive boards to only nine for the Pioneers, which led to a 18-6 advantage in second chance production.
FSU also forced 13 turnovers and had only six of its own in posting a 18-5 margin in points off turnovers.
Finally, the Bulldogs netted 20 assists, nine blocked shots and nine steals compared to 18 assists, five steals and no blocks for Malone, which dropped to 3-10 overall and 1-6 in league play with its seventh-straight setback this year.
Stolicker was one blocked shot shy of matching the school's individual single-game record of seven blocks in a contest while the Bulldogs were also only two blocks away from the team mark of 11 total blocks in a game.
The Bulldogs' current 11-game streak is the school's best since winning 12 in a row in the second half of the 2010-11 campaign when FSU reached the NCAA Division II Sweet Sixteen. This year's 10 wins over the initial 12 games coming in also represented only the third such showing for the Bulldogs in the last 40 years.
Ferris State is currently ranked 22nd in the Division II Media Poll and is 25th in the National Association of Basketball Coaches Division II Top 25 Poll. The Bulldogs were as high as sixth in the country earlier this week in the Massey Online Computer Rankings for Division II basketball.
FSU will wrap up its homestand by hosting Walsh on Saturday (Jan. 10) inside FSU's Jim Wink Arena. Tipoff is set for 3 p.m. (ET).
Bulldog Bites: Ferris State's 7-0 GLIAC start is its best since also winning seven in a row to start league play in 2005-06 … The Bulldogs remain tied with Saginaw Valley State atop the GLIAC as both teams are 7-0 in conference action … The school record for most consecutive wins in a campaign is 18 in the 1988-89 campaign … FSU improved to 2-1 all-time versus Malone with the win after a road loss last year to the Pioneers in Canton, Ohio … The Bulldogs are currently unbeaten (7-0) against GLIAC South Division schools this year with a single game remaining versus the opposite division in Walsh on Saturday … The Bulldogs outscored the Pioneers 48-32 in the paint … The contest featured a pair of lead changes, but FSU led for more than 30 minutes overall … FSU is now a perfect 6-0 at home this year.