Ferris State Claims First National Championship With Thrilling Title Game Victory

National Champions

Game Highlights Video
Postgame Press Conference Video
Postgame Radio Interviews Video

Sioux Falls, S.D. - The Ferris State University men's basketball squad capped off a historic campaign as the Bulldogs claimed the school's first NCAA Division II National Championship with a thrilling 71-69 triumph over Northern State (S.D.) before a sold out crowd inside the Sanford Pentagon on Saturday (March 24) in Sioux Falls.

The Bulldogs not only won the championship title, but also matched the all-time NCAA Division II record with their 38th win of the year, tying Winona State (Minn.) for the most victories in a single-campaign in D2 basketball history.

Ferris State closed a magical campaign with a 38-1 overall record and won its last 26 games in a row to close the year behind the school's all-time winningest senior class.

"That's how a national championship game is supposed to be when you dream about it," said FSU head coach Andy Bronkema. "Both teams deserved to be here and it was an outstanding game. We were fortunate to win against a great team and I'm so proud of our guys and what we have accomplished."

The Bulldogs fell behind early by seven points in the opening half, but rallied back to take a 39-37 halftime lead. The second half went back and forth with FSU grabbing a six-point advantage with 18:12 to go in the game before the Wolves responded in the second-ever series matchup.

Down the stretch, the two teams traded advantages before the Bulldogs finally surged in front in the closing minute. A last-second try from Northern State fell short and the Bulldogs secured the rebound to pull out the victory.

Junior center Zach Hankins led the way for FSU with a team-high 19 points while earning NCAA Division II Elite Eight Most Oustanding Player honors. He was joined on the all-tournament team by senior guard Drew Cushingberry.

The Bulldogs also got 12 points from senior wing Peter Firlik to go with 11 points by junior forward Markese Mayfield.

Overall, Ferris State shot 47.3% for the day and hit 16-of-22 (72.7%) free throws while making three-of-eight (37.5%) three's in the triumph.

Northern State, which closed the year with an impressive 36-4 mark, was led by Carter Evans' game-high 20 points. Both Logan Doyle and Darin Peterka added 14 points each with Ian Smith scoring 12 points.

The Wolves totaled a 49.1% shooting figure, but FSU limited Northern State to only one-of-four (25%) shooting from beyond the arc. Northern State made 12-of-18 (66.7%) free throws.

The Bulldogs were outrebounded 33-27 for the day. However, FSU also forced 18 turnovers and outscored the Wolves 19-9 in points off those turnovers while notching the win.

Ferris State became only the second Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) school ever to win a national championship in men's basketball, joining Findlay's unbeaten 2009 team in the record books. FSU also matched Winona State's all-time wins record with their 38th triumph of the year.

Saturday's game marked the final contest for five Bulldog seniors, including the program's two all-time winningest seniors in guards Drew Cushingberry and Noah King, who led FSU to four consecutive NCAA Division II Tournament appearances and four-straight GLIAC Tournament Championships along with back-to-back league regular-season titles in addition to the national championship. Additionally, senior wing Peter Firlik and senior forward TyQuone Greer played their final games as Bulldogs in the national title game.

The national championship is the first one ever for a Ferris State University athletics squad in NCAA Division II competition.