Big Rapids, Mich. - The Ferris State University men's basketball squad officially opened 2017-18 regular-season action with an impressive victory as the Bulldogs took down preseason fifth-ranked St. Thomas Aquinas 84-79 in day one action at the Small College Basketball Hall of Fame Classic in Evansville, Ind.
FSU beat a national top-five ranked team for the first time since 2010-11 and only the third time in the last 20 years inside the Ford Center in one of the country's premier early season events. It pitted a pair of top-10 ranked squads as FSU entered the game 10th in the National Association of Basketball Coaches Division II Top 25 poll.
Ferris State shot 50% from the floor in the win and and received a team-high 21 points from senior guard Drew Cushingberry in opening the year win a win. He hit 10-of-12 free throws and also dished out five assists with four rebounds and three steals in the triumph.
Along with Cushingberry, the Bulldogs received 12 points from junior forward Markese Mayfield to go with 11 points from junior All-America center Zach Hankins. The trio of sophomore guard D'angelo Hughes, forward TyQuone Greer and center Cole Walker contributed eight points apiece off the bench as did the starting duo of senior forward Noah King and senior guard Peter Firlik.
The Bulldogs built a 49-39 halftime lead and held on down the stretch against St. Thomas Aquinas, which posted a 28-6 mark a year ago and reached the NCAA Division II Elite Eight.
Ferris State made eight-of-20 (40%) three's and connected on 18-of-26 (69.2%) free throws in the win. The Bulldogs also overcame 25 turnovers as they outrebounded the opponent 36-35 and forced 24 miscues of their own.
On the defensive end, FSU held St. Thomas Aquinas to a four-of-17 (23.5%) showing from beyond the arc. The Spartans shot 47.5% overall from the floor and went 19-of-26 (73.1%) at the line. FSU also had 12 steals and four blocks on the defensive end.
The Spartans were paced by standout forward Justin Reyes, who tallied a game-high 26 points and pulled down 10 rebounds in a double-double performance. Kameron Murrell added 14 points, but those were the only two St. Thomas Aquinas players to reach double-figure scoring.
While St. Thomas Aquinas owned a 34-20 edge in points off turnovers, the Bulldogs produced 17 second chance points to 12 for the Spartans and led by as many as 13 points in the game.
Ferris State will face another top 10 team to wrap up the Small College Basketball Hall of Fame Classic on Saturday (Nov. 4) as FSU takes on sixth-ranked Indiana (Pa.) in Evansville starting at 1 p.m. (ET).