Big Rapids, Mich. - The nationally 18th-ranked Ferris State University men's basketball team mounted a valiant comeback, but clutch three-point shooting in the second half by visiting Lake Superior State handed the Bulldogs' their first Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) setback of the season on Saturday (Jan. 24) in a 69-67 setback at Jim Wink Arena.
The visiting Lakers led by 15 points with 10:32 to play before the Bulldogs rallied in front of large and noisy crowd of more than 1,300 fans. FSU trimmed the margin down to a single point with 90 seconds remaining and had an opportunity to win the contest at the end.
Ferris State senior guard Drew Lehman cut the deficit to 68-67 on a jumper in the final two minutes of action and a defensive stop put FSU at the free throw line. From there, the two teams traded misses at the free throw stripe with each squandering two tries from the line.
The second LSSU miss from Devin Daly came with 16 seconds to play. However, he followed with a make to put the Lakers up by two. Following a timeout, Ferris State got one final possession but a potential game-winning three from junior forward Josh Fleming was blocked away and rebounded by the Lakers as the horn sounded.
The loss snapped a 15-game regular-season win streak for the Bulldogs, who fell to 15-3 overall and 11-1 in conference play. FSU's 15-game streak, which did not include a late December exhibition win over NCAA Division I Bowling Green on the road, ranks as the second-longest in school history behind an 18-straight performance in 1988-89.
Despite Saturday's loss, though, the Bulldogs remain tied atop the GLIAC standings with Saginaw Valley State as the Cardinals also fell at home to Michigan Tech. Both teams now stand with a single loss in the conference. FSU's three losses this year have come by a combined total of five points.
LSSU moved within one game of the divisional leaders with the victory as the Lakers improved to 15-3 overall and 10-2 in the GLIAC.
In the opening half, the Lakers took a 28-18 lead following a physical opening 20 minutes of action. In the opening stanza, the Bulldogs only shot 32% from the field and the Lakers only connected on 36% of their shots from the floor.
Both teams, though, heated up some in the second half with FSU shooting 43.2% over the final period to finish at 38.7% for the afternoon. Ferris State made six-of-25 (24%) three's and hit 13-of-19 (68.4%) free throws.
The Lakers kept the score in their favor by connecting on 43.5% of their shots overall, including 52.4% in the second half. The big difference came from behind the arc where LSSU made 12-of-19 (63.2%) for the game, including an impressive 10-of-12 (83.3%) in the second half alone. In fact, 10 of Lake Superior State's 11 buckets in the final 20 minutes came from behind the three-point line. LSSU was 17-of-20 (85%) at the line.
Lehman paced the Bulldogs with 18 points on six-of-18 shooting and hit a pair of three's. He also added a game-high eight assists along with eight rebounds in a near triple-double effort.
Behind Lehman, the Bulldogs received 12 points from senior guard Dietrich Lever, who also added four assists.
Three Lake Superior State players reached double-digits with senior Alex Williams scoring a team-high 13 points. Daly added 11 points with Jordan Dasuqi totaling 10 points in the win. Five different players hit at least two three's for LSSU.
Ferris State owned a slim 36-34 rebounding edge overall, but had 15 offensive caroms to only seven for the Lakers. Those figures helped the Bulldogs own an 18-8 margin in second chance production.
Turnovers also worked in Ferris State's favor with the Bulldogs scoring 26 points off of 18 Laker miscues to only five for LSSU off of 11 FSU turnovers. The Bulldogs netted eight steals overall, including two apiece from junior forward James Chappell and Fleming.
In addition to his two steals, Fleming added nine points and four rebounds to help the Bulldogs while Chappell totaled seven points, six rebounds and four assists. Each also had a blocked shot as the Bulldogs totaled four on the day, including two from junior center Jared Stolicker. Finally, junior guard Jibreel Jackson chipped in with eight points and five rebounds.
Overall, Ferris State outscored the Lakers 32-14 in the paint, but LSSU received 27 points off its bench to 19 for FSU and held a slim 11-10 margin in fast break production. The lead changed hands twice, but LSSU led for more than 36 minutes overall.
Ferris State will try to get back on track as FSU wraps up a three-game league homestand against Hillsdale on Thursday (Jan. 29) with tipoff set for 8 p.m. (ET) inside Wink Arena. The Bulldogs then visit Saginaw Valley State for a potential first-place showdown on Saturday (Jan. 31) with tipoff set for 3 p.m. (ET).
FSU's current 11-1 GLIAC start ranks second in school history behind a 16-0 effort in 1988-89. The Bulldogs are ranked third in the Midwest Region media poll and were sixth in the nation last week in the Massey Online Computer Rankings.