Ferris State Advances To GLIAC Tourney Championship Game & Solidifies NCAA Tourney Hopes

Ferris State Advances To GLIAC Tourney Championship Game & Solidifies NCAA Tourney Hopes


Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. - The Ferris State University men's basketball team advanced to the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) Tournament Championship Game and likely solidified a spot in the NCAA Division II National Tournament with a 81-65 triumph over Walsh in the semifinal round on Saturday (March 7) at Bud Cooper Gymnasium in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.

The third-seeded Bulldogs improved to 22-8 overall by beating the seventh-seeded Cavaliers for the second time this season on the campus of Lake Superior State University.

With the victory, FSU will now advance to face the top-seeded and host Lakers on Sunday (March 8) in the league title game starting at 2 p.m. (ET). The winner receives the leageu's automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament although both teams are expected to receive bids regardless of the game's outcome.

After a close opening stretch, the Bulldogs took control and jumped out to a 38-27 advantage at halftime in the second semifinal game. FSU limited Walsh to only 28% shooting in the first half.

Ferris State quickly increased its edge early in the second half and led by as many as 17 points in the game. Walsh was able to trim FSU's double-digit lead down to as few as five points a couple of times in the second half, but each time the Bulldogs answered.

Down the stretch, Walsh cut the deficit to five for the final time with 5:58 to play on a pair of free throws from Zach Carter. However, FSU answered with a bucket inside from junior forward James Chappell and soon after an emphatic dunk from fellow junior forward Josh Fleming off a turnover pushed the margin back to nine points with 3:49 left in the contest.

From there, the Cavaliers could not get any closer than seven points as FSU closed the contest by scoring the final nine points of the game to pull out the victory.

The Bulldogs received a balanced effort in the triumph as four players reached double-digit scoring. Senior guard Drew Lehman led the way with a team-high 21 points while Fleming chipped in 19 points, junior center Jared Stolicker scored 18 points and Chappell poured in 10 points.

Ferris State sizzled most of the way as FSU shot 50.8% from the floor for the game. The Bulldogs were four-of-14 (28.6%) from three-point range and 15-of-22 (68.2%) at the charity stripe.

On the defensive end, the Bulldogs limited Walsh to only 36.7% shooting. The Cavaliers hit eight-of-25 (32%) three's and 13-of-16 (81.3%) free throws.

In addition to the higher shooting percentages, Ferris State also used a strong second half to outrebound Walsh 43-32 for the day. The Bulldogs pulled down 12 offensive boards to nine for Walsh, which led to a 16-4 margin in second chance scoring.

Additionally, Ferris State outscored Walsh 15-7 in points off turnovers after forcing 13 miscues. FSU also tallied a 55-29 advantage inside the paint behind the play of Stolicker, Fleming and Chappell along with several key transition baskets.

Talented guard Jesse Hardin Jr. led WU with a game-high 24 points, but needed to put up 26 shots to reach his total. Trey Fletcher added 19 points off the bench as only two Walsh players reached double-digit scoring.

Along with his 10 points, Chappell added a game-high 10 rebounds for FSU in a double-double effort with Stolicker hauling in seven boards. Lehman dished out a game-high six assists as FSU totaled 18 on the afternoon.

Finally, Ferrris State also registered eight steals and had seven blocked shots, including a pair from Stolicker who became the school's all-time single season leader in the category.

walsh finished with 13 assists, six steals and a single block. Hardin also paced the Cavaliers on the glass with a team-best seven rebounds and added three steals.

Ferris State led for nearly 35 minutes of a contest that featured six lead changes. It was tied twice, but FSU never trailed after regaining the lead with 12 minutes left in the opening half.

On Sunday, FSU will be seeking only its second-ever GLIAC Tournament title. The Bulldogs have advanced to the league final twice since winning its only postseason league crown in 1997-98, but fell in the championship game in both 2006 and 2011.

Sunday's GLIAC Championship game can be heard live on Sunny 97.3 FM and the Bulldog Sports Network starting with pregame coverage at 1:30 p.m. (ET) from Sault Ste. Marie.

Regardless of Sunday's outcome, the Bulldogs are expected to receive a bid into the national tournament when the official pairings are announced on Sunday night at 10:30 p.m. on NCAA.com. FSU was ranked sixth in the most recent regional rankings prior to back-to-back wins to start the conference tournament and eight teams from across the region will be selected for the NCAA-II Midwest Regional Tournament, which takes place March 14-17 at a campus site to be announced.

FSU fans are invited to join the Bulldogs on Sunday night upon their return from Sault Ste. Marie for a live NCAA Selection Show watch gathering at Buffalo Wild Wings in Big Rapids at 10:30 p.m.