Big Rapids, Mich. - The Ferris State University men's basketball squad pleased a large and enthused Jim Wink Arena crowd on Thursday (Feb. 26) night as the Bulldogs raced past archrival Grand Valley State for a 77-55 victory to wrap up the regular season and complete a season sweep in the West Michigan rivalry series.
More than 1,400 fans were on hand as pushed its record to 20-8 overall and 16-6 in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) this year. The 20 victories doubles last season's win total while the 16 conference wins tied a school single-season record.
With the win, Ferris State also secured the number three seed for the GLIAC Tournament and will host sixth-seeded Ashland on Wednesday (March 4) evening with tipoff set for 7 p.m. (ET) inside Jim Wink Arena.
On senior night, the Bulldogs delighted the home fans early as FSU jumped out to an early advantage behind the play of senior guard Drew Lehman. He scored Ferris State's first 10 points of the contest.
Lehman, though, wasn't the only Bulldog to heat up as freshman guard Noah King hit two triples in the first 10 minutes of play to give the Bulldogs a 30-11 lead midway thru the first half.
The Bulldogs pushed their lead to 20 points before the Lakers began to claw back. GVSU's Ernijs Ansons banked in a three-pointer to cut the Bulldogs lead to 40-26 with 4:38 left in the opening frame.
Moving forward, though, Lehman was able to beat the shot clock to finish in the lane with a floater and then stole a Ryan Sabin pass to find freshman guard Drew Cushingberry for a buzzer-beating triple to give the Bulldogs a 49-29 lead at the half. Lehman finished the first half with 18 points.
In the second half, Ferris State pushed its advantage to as many as 28 points with 4:13 to go and eventually outscored GVSU 28-26 over the final 20 minutes as the Lakers never seriously threatened down the stretch.
FSU finished the night shooting 42.6% from the floor while hitting 13-of-29 (44.8%) three-point attempts. The Bulldogs also ended the night by knocking down 6-of-9 (66.7%) free-throw attempts.
The Bulldogs were led by Lehman, who had a game high 20 points on 8-of-14 shooting. Lehman also added seven assists and five boards with two steals.
King had a career night by finishing with 17 points on 4-of-8 shooting from the three-point line and 6-of-12 from the floor. Junior forward Josh Fleming rounded out the Bulldogs in double-figures with 13 points for the game.
Two other FSU seniors also played a big role as senior guard Dietrich Lever tallied eight points and five assists while senior forward Matt Stoll added two points and eight rebounds in a valuable reserve role off the bench. Junior center Jared Stolicker also chipped in six points and pulled down 10 boards with junior forward James Chappell adding six points and five caroms.
Meanwhile, GVSU shot 35% from the field and connected on only 4-of-15 (26.7%) shots from downtown. The Lakers finished the contest hitting only 9-of-16 (56.3%) free-throw attempts.
The Lakers were led by Sabin, who had 12 points. Joining him in double-figures was Ansons with 10 points. Three other Lakers chipped in seven points apiece.
Grand Valley State outrebounded the Bulldogs 43-41 for the game while bringing down 12 offensive boards to FSU's 11 offensive rebounds. It led to a 14-10 Laker advantage in second chance production.
However, the Bulldogs finished with only seven turnovers, including none in the first half, and recorded 20 assists. The Lakers had 14 turnovers with only 12 assists of their own as FSU held a decisive 19-2 margin in points off miscues.
Overall, Ferris State finished with eight steals and six blocked shots compared to seven thefts and two swats for the Lakers, who wrapped up the year with a 13-15 overall record and a 9-13 GLIAC slate.
The Bulldogs never trailed in the game while beating the Lakers for the eighth time in the last 15 matchups and sweeping this year's series following a 96-85 overtime victory in Allendale on Feb. 2. The win was FSU's second-straight of the season after a 78-72 victory over 24th-ranked Saginaw Valley State last Saturday in Wink Arena.
Additionally, with the six blocked shots in the game, Ferris State also set a new school single-season record for most team blocks in a season with 142 to date.
The win was also important to the Bulldogs' NCAA Tournament hopes at the end of the year as FSU entered the game ranked eighth in the NCAA-II Midwest Regional Rankings and the top eight teams at the end of the year will receive national tourney bids.
Along with the trio of Lehman, Lever and Stoll, the Bulldogs also honored a pair of injured players at their final regular-season home game including guard Matt Poches and forward Dan Chilcote. FSU improved to 11-3 at home this year with the triumph.
Wednesday's GLIAC Tourney game will represent only the second time in which the Bulldogs have posted a conference tourney quarterfinal in the last nine seasons. Lake Superior State earned the top seed with Michigan Tech second, FSU third and Saginaw Valley State fourth in the field and all hosting first-round matchups. The top remaining seed after the quarterfinals will host the semifinals/finals on March 7-8.
Tickets for the quarterfinal-round game will be $8 for adults and $2 for students. No season passes will be accepted per GLIAC regulations. For additional ticket information, please contact the FSU Athletics Ticket Office at (231) 591-2888.