Big Rapids, Mich. - The nationally 11th-ranked Ferris State University men's basketball squad grabbed the momentum early and came up with several big plays down the stretch to finish a 86-82 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) showdown with a win over Saginaw Valley State on Sunday (Jan. 12) evening in University Center.
The Bulldogs surged in front early and led by as many as 15 points with 14:11 remaining in the contest before the Cardinals rallied in the second half.
With the victory, Ferris State moved to 17-2 overall and surged into a first-place tie atop the GLIAC standings with a 6-1 conference mark. SVSU fell to 11-4 overall and 5-2 in the conference, sitting in a tie for second after the setback.
FSU held the lead for more than 39 minutes of the game and the lead changed hands only twice, but the Cardinals pulled in front by a single point with four minutes to go before the Bulldogs regained the advantage.
In the closing seconds, the Bulldogs came up with two big defensive plays to preserve the win, first nearly forcing a backcourt violation with less than two seconds left and then, after a tie up was called, not allowing SVSU to in-bound the ball.
While the Bulldogs pulled out the big plays defensively late, junior guard Walt Kelser got FSU going offensively early and finished with a team-high 22 points.
Kelser was joined in double-digits by sophomore forward Mason Pline with 15 points along senior center Cole Walker, who netted 11 points. Senior guard D'angelo Hughes compiled 10 points, including a big three-pointer and three made free throws down the stretch.
The Bulldogs connected on 47.7% of their field goals and hit 10-of-24 (41.7%) from long range along with 14-of-20 (70%) at the line.
Meanwhile, Saginaw Valley State finished a perfect 20-of-20 (100%) at the charity stripe and went 10-of-27 (37%) from the three-point arc with an overall field goal figure of 45.6% for the evening at O'Neill Arena.
SVSU was led by Malik Ellison, who compiled a game-high 30 points. Myles Belyeu recorded 21 points and Delano Smith added 13 points for the hosts.
The Bulldogs held a significant edge on the offensive glass, outscoring the Cardinals 25-9 in second chance points thanks to 15 offensive rebounds compared to only seven for SVSU. Overall, the Bulldogs held a 38-29 rebounding margin and also outscored Saginaw Valley State 38-30 inside the paint.
Finally, the Bulldogs' bench compiled 30 points to only 11 for the Cardinals' reserves.
The Bulldogs wrap up their five-game conference road swing by traveling to Michigan's Upper Peninsula later this week. FSU visits Northern Michigan on Thursday (Jan. 16) for a 5:30 p.m. (ET) conference tilt in University Center before taking on Michigan Tech on Saturday (Jan. 18) afternoon in Houghton.