Ferris State Men's Basketball Wins First NCAA Tourney Game In Five Years To Advance

Ferris State Men's Basketball Wins First NCAA Tourney Game In Five Years To Advance

Postgame Press Conference

Big Rapids, Mich. - An impressive start fueled the Ferris State University men's basketball squad to its first-ever win over Bellarmine University and first NCAA Division II Tournament victory in five years as the Bulldogs raced to a 100-84 win in the first round of the Midwest Regional on Saturday (March 12) afternoon in Somers, Wis.

The Bulldogs knocked out the defending regional champions as FSU bolted out to an early advantage and made some timely plays down the stretch to pull out the triumph. Ferris State led 54-41 at halftime and by as many as 19 points in the second half en route to the win.

With the victory, the Bulldogs now advance to the NCAA-II Midwest Regional Semifinals on Sunday (March 13) evening versus Indianapolis at DeSimone Gymnasium on the campus of top-seeded Wisconsin-Parkside. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. (ET).

Six players reached double-figure scoring for the Bulldogs, who were making their 11th overall and second consecutive national tournament appearance after winning the GLIAC Tournament Championship for the second-straight year last weekend. FSU improved to 23-9 overall this campaign with the victory under third-year head coach Andy Bronkema, who notched hits first NCAA Tourney victory.

The Bulldogs were paced by sophomore guard Drew Cushingberry, who hit for a team-high 18 points. He also hit 10-of-10 free throws, inclduing several big ones in the final three minutes as the Knights tried to foul to cut down the FSU advantage. He added five assists, four rebounds, two blocks and two steals in the victory.

Along with Cushingberry, the Bulldogs received 14 points from senior center Jared Stolicker and another 14 points off the bench from redshirt freshman center Zach Hankins, who also chipped in seven rebounds and went six-of-seven from the field. Senior forward Josh Fleming nailed two early three's and finished with 12 points while senior forward James Chappell totaled 11 points and a game-high eight rebounds. Finally, junior guard Quentin Ruff chipped in with 10 points.

The Bulldogs shot 54% overall and hit a blistering 62.9% of their first half field goals. They also sank 10-of-16 (62.5%) three's for the game and went 26-of-29 (89.7%) at the free throw line.

Along with the impressive shooting figure, Ferris State outrebounded Bellarmine 40-29 for the game and picked up 21 assists along with five blocked shots and four steals.

Meanwhile, Bellarmine converted 46.2% of its field goals for the game and hit nine-of-25 (36%) three's along with 15-of-22 (68.2%) free throws.

The Knights were paced by senior forward George Suggs, who scored a game-high 20 points on seven-of-16 shooting, including an 0-of-5 figure from three-point range. Leading scorer Rusty Troutman was limited to 15 points on four-of-10 shooting with Josh Derksen adding 12 points, Al Davis scoring 11 points and Adam Eberhard totaling 10 points off the bench.

Ferris State held a decided advantage in bench production by outscoring Bellarmine 37-18 and the Bulldogs also scored 14 points off of 13 offensive rebounds in the victory as they never trailed in the game.

The win was the first for the Bulldogs against Bellarmine with all three meetings coming in NCAA Tournament play. The Knights had beat FSU in the NCAA-II Sweet Sixteen in the most recent matchup in 2011 at BU's Knights Hall in Louisville. The two national tournament wins prior to the regional final setback that season marked FSU's most recent NCAA victories.

The winner of Sunday's regional semifinal will advance to Tuesday's (March 15) Midwest Regional Championship Game starting at 8 p.m. (ET) at Wisconsin-Parkside.