Big Rapids, Mich.- The Ferris State University men's basketball team used a balanced and hard-fought attack on Saturday (Feb. 21) and came up with several timely plays down the stretch inside Jim Wink Arena as FSU registered a 78-72 home win over nationally 24th-ranked Saginaw Valley State in Big Rapids.
The Bulldogs completed a season sweep over the Cardinals and moved into a tie for third place overall in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) standings with the triumph.
Ferris State led by seven points in the first half and held off the Cardinals in the final 20 minutes of action to snap a five-game skid and improve to 19-8 overall and 15-6 in the league standings. SVSU dropped to 20-7 overall and 16-5 in conference play.
Both squads finished the first half shooting over 44%. However, balanced scoring for the Bulldogs was the difference, as nine Bulldogs scored in the first half to give FSU a 36-29 advantage at halftime.
A quick start to the second half from the Cardinals quickly turned the tide as SVSU began the second frame on a 15-4 run to take a 44-40 lead with 15:45 to play in the second half.
However, the Bulldogs fought back and back-to-back steals from senior forward Matt Stoll helped FSU regain a 51-49 advantage with just over 10 minutes to go.
A tip-in from junior forward James Chappell provided the Bulldogs with a 65-60 lead heading into the final media timeout of the game. Chappell's stellar play continued as he added another lay in before drawing a charge on the ensuing defensive possession.
A triple from senior guard Drew Lehman with just under two minutes to go pushed the Bulldogs lead to six before SVSU's Damon Bozeman connected on a four-point play to cut the FSU lead to 70-67 with 1:40 to play.
Shortly after, though, Bulldog freshman guard Drew Cushingberry followed up his own miss with a putback to push the Ferris State lead to four. The Bulldogs then turned to Lehman at the free throw line where he connected on all six attempts in the final minute to carry FSU to the victory.
The Bulldogs finished the afternoon shooting 47.7% from the field while connecting on 4-of-12 (33.3%) three-point attempts. The Bulldogs also had a solid day at the stripe by shooting 12-of-15 (80%) on the day.
Meanwhile, the Cardinals shot 50% from the floor and hit 8-of-19 (42.1%) three-point field goals. SVSU struggled at the line and hit on just 6-of-12 (50%) free throw chances.
FSU was again led by Lehman as he followed up his 37-point performance on Thursday at Hillsdale with a 20-point performance against the Cardinals, who earlier had dropped a 62-57 contest to FSU on Jan. 31 in University Center.
Along with Lehman, Bulldog junior center Jared Stolicker chipped in 15 points while junior forward Josh Fleming stuffed the stat sheet with 13 points, six rebounds, five assists and both a pair of blocks and steals. Overall, nine Bulldogs entered their names in the scoring column.
SVSU was led by Bozeman, who scored 20 of his 27 points in the second half. Two other Cardinals joined him in double-figures as Caleb Davis finished with 16 points and C.J. Turnage totaled 14 points and 10 rebounds in a double-double effort.
The Bulldogs outrebounded the Cardinals 37-33 on the afternoon and grabbed 10 offensive boards to eight for the Cardinals. Although, SVSU outscored the Bulldogs 15-8 in second chance production.
Ferris State finished the contest with 22 assists to only eight turnovers while SVSU netted 19 assists and 15 turnovers. The difference gave FSU a 18-15 advantage in points off of miscues.
Along with the three individuals in double-figures, the Bulldogs also received eight points with six rebounds and three assists from Chappell. Junior guard Jibreel Jackson added four points with a squad-high six assists and senior guard Dietrich Lever tallied seven points with a pair of helpers. Cushingberry came up with six rebounds, three assists and two blocks to go with his four points on the day.
Overall, the Cardinals had only six players reach the scoring column with Garrett Hall adding eight points and Kellen Smith totaling six for the game. Smith also dished out nine assists.
Ferris State held a decisive 48-34 edge in points scored inside the paint and also recorded 19 points off the bench to only a single point for the Cardinals in a game that featured four lead changes and was tied five times.
The Bulldogs, who have clinched a quarterfinal round home game for the GLIAC Tournament and will host an opponent to be determined on March 4, will wrap up the regular-season by hosting West Michigan archrival Grand Valley State on Thursday, Feb. 26, inside FSU's Jim Wink Arena. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. (ET).
The contest against the Lakers will serve as FSU's "Senior Night" with this year's senior class honored prior to the contest. It will also be both Student-Athlete Night along with the Faculty Appreciation Game as FSU squares off against the Lakers in Big Rapids.