Big Rapids, Mich.- The Ferris State University men's basketball team fell for only the second time in Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) play this season as #17 FSU dropped a 68-60 decision to Michigan Tech on Thursday (Feb. 5) night at Jim Wink Arena.
Despite the setback, Ferris State remains tied for first place in the GLIAC North Division with a 14-2 league mark. FSU, which had won 18 of its last 19 games coming into the contest, is now 18-4 overall this season.
Michigan Tech improved to 14-6 overall and 11-5 in the GLIAC with the triumph.
The Huskies got off to a fast start by connecting on 3-of-4 three-point attempts in the first five minutes of play to give them a quick 13-3 lead. However, following the first media timeout, the Bulldogs turned up the energy and went on a run to battle back and take the lead.
Ferris State held a 34-27 lead at the break behind the hot shooting of senior guard Drew Lehman, who finished the first half with 16 points on 4-of-5 shooting from downtown. The Bulldogs overall shot 58.3% from three-point range in the half.
In the second half, Michigan Tech opened the period with a 17-6 run to grab a 44-40 edge with 11:09 remaining in the contest. They pushed the margin to seven points at 52-45 with 7:25 to go before the Bulldogs cut the lead to three with slightly more than six minutes to play.
The Huskies, though, answered with timely shooting from Jordan Chartier and a pair of free throws by Phil Romback to push the margin back to eight points with only 3:48 left in the contest.
Bulldog junior forward James Chappell eventually knocked down a pair of free throws with 2:56 remaining in the game to cut the Huskies lead to 57-54, but the hot hand late of MTU guard Ben Stelzer provided a quick answer as he nailed a contested triple to push the Huskies' lead to 60-54 with 2:28 to play.
The Bulldogs' comeback attempt came up short as the Huskies knocked down eight free throws in the final margin to keep FSU at bay.
The Bulldogs shot only 39.3% in the contest after a rough shooting second half and netted 8-of-22 (36.4%) three-point attempts. FSU ended the night shooting 8-of-12 (66.7%) from the charity stripe.
Michigan Tech finished the contest shooting 45.7% while knocking down 10-of-21 (47.6%) three-point attempts. Behind the performance in the final minute, Michigan Tech finished the game 16-of-20 (80%) from the line.
Michigan Tech held a narrow advantage on the boards 33-31 although the Bulldogs outrebounded the Huskies 11-8 on the offensive glass and held a 12-11 advantage in second chance production.
FSU was led in scoring by Lehman with 23 points, which was a game-high. Both Chappell and junior guard Jibreel Jackson finished the contest with seven points each.
The Huskies were led by Chartier, who finished with 20 points, six assists and five boards. Luke Heller added 14 points while Stelzer tallied 13 and Romback totaled 10 on the night.
The Bulldogs forced 12 Huskies' turnovers and had only eight of their own, which resulted in a 17-7 edge in points off miscues in favor of FSU. Ferris State also had all 13 fast break points in the game as the Bulldogs tried to speed up play.
Overall, Ferris State finished with 14 assists, 10 steals and six blocked shots compared to 18 assists, two steals and no blocks for MTU. Both Jackson and Chappell had three blocks each for the Bulldogs while junior forward Josh Fleming had three blocked shots to lead the way.
The victory for Michigan Tech avenged an earlier loss to the Bulldogs in Houghton on Jan. 15 as the two teams wrapped up the regular-season series as round two of GLIAC North Division play started. The contest featured six lead changes and the score was tied three different times.
Ferris State's GLIAC Championship football and volleyball teams from the fall were honored during Thursday's home twin bill and the Bulldogs wore their red road uniforms for the game as part of a "red out" effort in support of American Heart Month.
Ferris State will wrap up its homestand this week by hosting Northern Michigan on Saturday (Feb. 7) at Wink Arena. Tipoff is set for 3 p.m. (ET). A special Festival of the Arts performance will take place during Saturday's doubleheader as FSU welcomes back former head coach and current NMU coach Bill Sall for the afternoon game.
Following Saturday's game, FSU begins a three-game road swing next week before playing their final two regular-season outings back at home in late February.