Ferris State Captures 2015 GLIAC Tourney Championship To Earn NCAA Tourney Bid!

Ferris State Captures 2015 GLIAC Tourney Championship To Earn NCAA Tourney Bid!

| Fleming | Lehman | Weisenburger

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Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. - The Ferris State University men's basketball squad came up with a big time performance on a big stage as the Bulldogs won only the school's second-ever Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) Tournament Championship with an 87-82 triumph over host Lake Superior State before a capacity crowd on the Lakers' home floor in a highly-intense title game on Sunday (March 8) afternoon in Sault Ste. Marie.

The third-seeded Bulldogs jumped out to an early 31-8 lead with a blistering start in the tournament championship game against the top-seeded Lakers and then prevailed down the stretch by holding off a hard-fought Lakers' comeback attempt to earn the GLIAC's automatic bid into the NCAA Division II Tournament.

The league tourney crown was FSU's first since winning the title for the first time in 1997-98, which also came in Michigan's Upper Peninsula in Houghton. FSU capped off a three-game run thru this year's tournament to receive the school's 10th all-time NCAA-II Tournament bid.

The official NCAA Tournament selections will be announced on Sunday night at 10:30 p.m. (ET) at NCAA.com and Bulldog fans are invited to Buffalo Wild Wings in Big Rapids for the live selection show announcement. The NCAA-II Midwest Regional Tournament will be held March 14-17 with official matchups along with the site and time to be announced in addition to the eight teams chosen for the regional field.

In Sunday's title game, the Bulldogs used the quick start to build a 49-35 halftime lead as FSU shot 53% over the first 20 minutes and limited LSSU to only 30% shooting.

The tide turned at times in the second half, though, as the Lakers chipped away at the FSU advantage and eventually outscored FSU 47-38 in the final period. However, LSSU never did gain the lead in the contest as it was tied four times, but the Lakers never led in the game.

The championship game was knotted for the final time with 3:38 to play as LSSU's Jake Blake scored on a lay-in inside, but FSU answered by making four-straight free throws with two apiece from senior guard Drew Lehman and two by freshman guard Drew Cushingberry to push the margin back to four points.

The lead eventually grew again to five points on two more Lehman free throws with 38 seconds to play, but LSSU trimmed it back to a single point with nine seconds to go on two foul shots from Tony Harris. A quick Laker foul led to two more makes by Cushingberry and FSU quickly fouled Harris with six seconds remaining while holding onto a three-point lead.

Harris' two free throws again made it a one-point game. FSU inbounded the ball up the floor to Lehman, who was tackled from behind by LSSU's Akaemji Williams. Both an intentional foul and a technical foul were called as Lehman hit all four free throws to ice the win and account for the final margin.

Lehman led Ferris State with a personal career-high 38 points in the contest, which topped his previous high of 37 set only a couple of weeks ago in regular-season play at Hillsdale. He was 11-of-22 from the floor and 13-of-14 at the free throw stripe while being chosen as the GLIAC Tournament Most Valuable Player.

The senior guard was joined on the all-tournament team by a pair of teammates in junior forward Josh Fleming and senior center Jared Stolicker. In Sunday's title game, Fleming scored seven points before fouling out with five minutes to play in the physical showdown while Stolicker produced seven points and seven rebounds.

A balanced effort again led to the team victory as FSU received significant contributions again up and down the lineup. Junior guard Jibreel Jackson joined Lehman in double-digits with 10 points, junior forward James Chappell pulled down a team-high eight rebounds and senior guard Dietrich Lever totaled eight points. Cushingberry contributed six points and six boards with fellow freshman Noah King producing five points and senior forward Matt Stoll grabbing five rebounds.

Ferris State, which improved to 23-8 overall this season, shot 42.1% for the game and made eight-of-17 (47.1%) three's along with 31-of-44 (70.5%) free throws. The Bulldogs also had only six turnovers in the triumph.

Lake Superior State finished shooting 45.5% overall, including 68% in the second half, but made only six-of-21 (28.6%) three-pointers along with 26-of-34 (76.5%) tries from the charity stripe.

The Lakers placed five in double-figures with Devin Daly scoring a team-best 22 points off the bench. Harris added 17 points, senior Alex Williams scored 13 points, Akaemji Williams contributed 12 points and Jordan Dasqui netted 10 on the day.

Both Williams and Blake totaled a game-high 10 boards each for LSSU, which owned a 40-34 rebounding edge. The Lakers also pulled down 12 offensive boards to 11 for Ferris State, but FSU held a 10-4 margin in second chance scoring.

Defensively, the Bulldogs forced 14 turnovers and outscored the Lakers 19-5 in points off miscues for the afternoon. FSU had six steals and a single block with LSSU netting four steals and four blocks. The Bulldogs dished out 10 assists to 13 for the Lakers.

LSSU did finish with a 36-28 advantage in points scored inside the paint and a 42-21 edge in bench production.

Ferris State beat the Lakers for the first time in three meetings this year after dropping a pair of regular-season matchups. LSSU dropped to 25-6 on the year with the setback.

The Bulldogs now await Sunday night's NCAA Selection Show to determine their next opponent and first-round matchup in the NCAA Tournament. Stay tuned to FerrisStateBulldogs.com for more information.