Nothing is ever set in stone, especially the GLIAC North Division standings.
The Ferris State University men’s basketball team suffered two tough setbacks on the road against Wayne State University (Feb. 16) and the University of Findlay (Feb. 18).The losses caused FSU to fall in the conference standings, and the Bulldogs now share possesion of first place.
In Thursday night’s game, the Bulldogs trailed by 13 points late in the second half but battled back to force the Warriors into overtime before ultimately falling to WSU by a 72-69 score. FSU senior forward Jerrell Sanders tied the game up in the final minute of regulation and had the opportunity to seal the victory on the final possession of regulation but turned the ball over. In overtime, FSU freshman guard Dietrich Lever’s potentially game-tying three-pointer fell short as the clock ran out.
“We did a really good job playing together as a team,” FSU freshman guard Drew Lehman said. “We definitely can’t fault our effort.”
Junior forward Daniel Sutherlin paced the Bulldogs with 18 points, nine rebounds and three steals. Sanders added18 points, four steals and two blocked shots. FSU also received double-figure scoring from senior guard Dontae Molden (13) and junior guard Kenny Brown (10).
All in all, the hard-fought contest featured eight lead changes and the score was tied seven times. With the win, WSU improved to 15-8 overall and 12-5 in league play. The Warriors snapped the Bulldogs’ six-game winning streak. However, FSU did manage to clinch a spot as one of the eight teams for the 2012 GLIAC Postseason Tournament.
On Feb. 18. FSU travelled to Ohio to take on the University of Findlay. The Oilers had won 75 consecutive conference regular-season home games. They had not lost a conference game at home since 2004. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, UF recorded its 76th-consecutive home victory with a 74-69 win over FSU.
“When their fans started to get into it in the second half as they started to come back, it was definitely not like any other game atmosphere I’d ever experienced,” Lehman said.
The Bulldogs held a 41-33 halftime advantage but were held scoreless over a big stretch of the final 10 minutes of the contest. The Oilers capitalized on the opportunity and never relinquished the lead after pulling ahead in the final five minutes. With the victory, UF improved to 19-6 overall and 13-5 in conference action.
Brown led FSU with 24 points–15 of which came in the first half. Sanders contributed 14 points. Molden added six assists.
“We just need to focus on getting better, and it starts with Hillsdale,” Lehman said. “They’ve already won their conference, so it will be a good test for us as we get ready for the GLIAC tournament.”
With the setback, the Bulldogs fell to 15-9 overall and 12-4 in GLIAC action. FSU is now tied with Northwood University atop the GLIAC North Division standings with two games left in the regular season. Michigan Tech University trails the co-leaders by just one game in the standings. However, the Bulldogs could potentially host a first-round quarterfinal game of the GLIAC Postseason Tournament which would take place Feb. 29 at Jim Wink Arena.
FSU will look to bounce back from its road losses Feb. 22 when the Bulldogs host Hillsdale College for “Senior Night.” FSU will honor the team’s three senior players prior to the scheduled 8 p.m. tipoff.
It would definitely mean a lot to get a win for the seniors in their last regular season home game,” Lehman said. “I speak for all the underclassmen when I say it would be awesome to be able to contribute enought to get them a win.”