Memorable Ferris State Basketball Campaign Comes To A Close In Exciting NCAA Regional Overtime Game

Memorable Ferris State Basketball Campaign Comes To A Close In Exciting NCAA Regional Overtime Game

Big Rapids, Mich. - A memorable Ferris State University men's basketball campaign came to a close on Saturday (March 14) night in the NCAA Tournament as the Bulldogs played yet another memorable contest with Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) North Division rival Lake Superior State in a 78-69 overtime setback at Knights Hall in Louisville, Ky.

The Bulldogs and the Lakers met for the fourth time this season and the second consecutive contest as the two teams squared off in the NCAA-II Midwest Regional Quarterfinals on the campus of Bellarmine University. FSU held a five-point lead in the final minute of regulation, but the Lakers fought back to force the extra session and pull out the win as FSU closed the year with a 23-9 overall record.

"I'm so proud of what our guys accomplished this year," said second-year head coach Andy Bronkema, who led FSU to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since a Sweet Sixteen finish in Louisville in 2011. "We accomplished so many great things this season and our guys gave it everything they had here tonight. Our seniors have left a great legacy and while we're disappointed with the outcome in this game, we're certainly not disappointed in all they have accomplished."

After beating the Lakers 87-82 in a memorable game last Sunday to secure the GLIAC Tournament Championship in Sault Ste. Marie, the Bulldogs got off to a slow start in Saturday's NCAA rematch. The fourth-seeded Lakers shot 50% in the first half in building a 31-26 halftime lead over the Bulldogs.

Lake Superior State continued to hold the lead for much of the second half as the Bulldogs never lead in the game until a free throw from junior forward Josh Fleming with 3:19 to go gave FSU a 61-60 advantage. However, while the Bulldogs had not lead until that point, they never went away as Ferris State fought back time and time again to remain within striking distance.

Following FSU's initial lead, LSSU senior Alex Williams connected on a pair of free throws to put the lead back in the Lakers' favor. But, Fleming again was fouled and made two from the charity stripe, giving the Bulldogs a 63-62 edge with 2:32 left in regulation. Following a defensive stop, FSU's James Chappell drew a foul and connected on a pair as Ferris State grabbed a 65-62 edge with 1:20 to play.

Another missed Laker shot gave possession back to the Bulldogs and FSU raced up the floor against full-court pressure with junior center Jared Stolicker jamming one home to give FSU a 67-62 lead inside of a minute.

From there, the tide turned in regulation for the Bulldogs. LSSU could not convert as a shot from Tony Harris was blocked away by FSU, but the Lakers kept possession and senior forward Jake Blake hit a three from the corner with 30 seconds to go to cut the margin back to two points.

FSU then turned the ball over against the Lakers' pressure and Blake followed with a short jumper to tie the game up with 20 seconds remaining. The Lakers forced another turnover off the press and had a chance to win the contest in regulation on the final possession, but the Bulldogs came up with a defensive stop as the two teams headed to overtime.

In overtime, Lake Superior State scored the only basket in the first 2:20 of the extra frame, but soon followed a jumper from Harris and three free throws to take a seven-point lead with 35 seconds left. FSU answered with a basket from senior guard Drew Lehman, which was his first bucket of the game, but the Lakers follwed with a free throw and held on down the stretch for the postseason victory.

The setback capped a season that saw the Bulldogs finish with a 23-9 overall record in addition to making the school's 10th NCAA bid and winning the GLIAC Tourney for only the second time in school history among the many other accomplishments.

Fleming led the Bulldogs with 15 points in the game while freshman guard Noah King and Chappell both added 11 points each. Lehman was held to only two points on one-of-13 shooting as the Lakers focused on him after he had produced 38 points in last Sunday's victory to earn GLIAC Tourney MVP honors.

While Lehman did not have his best offensive production, the first-team all-region pick did help create scoring opportunites for the rest of the Bulldog lineup. He also helped FSU distribute 17 assists in the game, which included four apiece from Chappell and senior guard Dietrich Lever.

FSU finished shooting 37.5% for the night and made 10-of-30 (33.3%) three's along with 11-of-14 (78.6%) free throws. Meanwhile, Lake Superior State hit 47.4% of its field goals overall and was eight-of-19 (42.1%) beyond the arc and 16-of-26 (61.5%) at the line.

The Lakers were paced by Williams, who totaled a game-high 21 points in his best performance of the year in four meetings against the Bulldogs. He was joined in double-digits by freshman guard Akaemji Williams with 14 points and Blake, who totaled 10 points as LSSU advanced to face top-seeded Bellarmine in Sunday's (March 15) regional semifinals at Knights Hall.

Stolicker grabbed a game-high 15 rebounds for the Bulldogs and was only a single point short of reaching a double-double as he generated nine points. His effort on the glass helped FSU own a 41-39 rebounding margin, which included a 16-12 difference in offensive boards.

The Bulldogs had 12 turnovers in the game to only nine for Lakers, giving LSSU a 13-9 advantage in points off turnovers for the evening. The Lakers had seven steals and three blocked shots with FSU netting three steals and seven blocks in the game.

Along with Lehman, two other Bulldogs also saw their final on-court action in the NCAA regional game for FSU with Lever totaling four assists, three points and two boards in his final game. Senior forward Matt Stoll came off the bench and finished with two points and two rebounds in nine minutes.

In addition to the NCAA Tourney appearance and the GLIAC Tourney title this year, the Bulldogs' season was also highlighted by several other accomplishments including a top 20 national ranking, a 15-game regular season win streak, an exhibition victory over NCAA Division I Bowling Green and signature wins such as the team's first-ever win at Findlay's Croy Gymnasium. FSU also led the GLIAC in attendance during the regular season.