Bulldogs Suffer Close Setback In Tight First-Place Battle In GLIAC North

Bulldogs Suffer Close Setback In Tight First-Place Battle In GLIAC North

Big Rapids, Mich. - The Ferris State University men's basketball squad battled the league-leading Saginaw Valley State Cardinals to the wire in a first-place Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) showdown at FSU's Jim Wink Arena on Saturday (Jan. 30), but came up on the short end of a thrilling 74-72 finale before a large home crowd.

The Bulldogs took a 28-24 hafltime lead and led by as many as eight points late in the opening period after overcoming a quick SVSU start in the game's opening seven minutes of play. 

In the second half, the contest went back and forth before Saginaw Valley State surged in front late in the game. They held a 69-62 lead with slighly more than a minute to play, but FSU fought back.

FSU senior forward Josh Fleming socred with 53 seconds remaining and after a turnover, senior guard Jibree Jackson hit a free throw to pull FSU back within four. He missed the second, but Fleming came up with a big offensive board and sophomore guard Drew Cushingberry hit a three from the corner to make it a one-point game with 30 seconds to go.

The Bulldogs fouled and SVSU's Kellen Smith hit two free throws to push the Cardinals' lead back to three before Cushinberry followed with a quick layup to cut the margin to one again with 14 seconds to go. However, Caleb Davis sank two more tries from the foul line for the Cardinals before Cushinberry answered again with a layup to cut the deficit to 73-72 with four seconds left.

Saginaw Valley State's Garrett Hall hit his first free throw after a FSU foul, but missed the second. However, a half-court heave from Fleming came up short as time expired that would have gave the Bulldogs the win.

Senior center Jared Stolicker paced FSU with 17 points and 11 rebounds in a double-double performance while Fleming added 13 points and 11 boards in a double-double of his own. Cushingberry chipped in with 13 points while both senior forward James Chappell and junior guard Quentin Ruff had nine points each as FSU's five-game winning streak came to a halt.

Meanwhile, standout C.J. Turnage paced the Cardinals with a game-high 24 points as Saginaw Valley State beat the 25th-ranked Bulldogs. Damon Bozeman had a big second half as well and netted 15 points in the SVSU win.

Both teams struggled from the floor in the defensive battle as FSU shot 36.5% overall and SVSU converted on 39% of its field goals. The Bulldogs were six-of-23 (26%) from three-point range with Saginaw Valley State going one-of-12 (8.3%) from downtown.

The difference in the game came at the free throw line where the Cardinals hit 29-of-40 (72.5%) tries and FSU shot only 20 attempts, going 12-of-20 (60%).

The Bulldogs were slighly outrebounded 48-47, but did record 16 offensive rebounds to 13 for the Cardinals, leading to a 17-12 advantage in second chance scoring.

Overall, Ferris State also forced 11 SVSU turnovers and had only seven of its own as the Bulldogs owned a 15-6 advantage in points off turnovers.

The contest was virtually even in the paint where SVSU scored 38 poitns to 36 for the Bulldogs. However, all 14 fast break points went to the Cardinals.

Ferris State finished with 18 assists, including six from Jackson and four by Fleming. FSU also had three steals and 12 blocked shots with Stolicker rejecting four shot attempts. Both sophomore guard Noah King and redshirt freshman center Zach Hankins tallied three blocks each. 

In comparison, SVSU had 11 assists, three blocks and two steals for the game while improving to 16-4 overall and 12-2 in the GLIAC. 

Ferris State dropped to 16-4 overall as well and is now 10-4 in league action, two games behind the Cardinals in a second-place tie with Lake Superior State in the GLIAC North.

The Bulldogs will be back at home again on Monday night (Feb. 1) as they host archrival Grand Valley State with tipoff set for 8 p.m. (ET) inside Wink Arena.