After clinching a 79-72 overtime victory against Grand Valley at the “131 Showdown” earlier this season, the Bulldogs were on the opposite end in the regular season finale against the Lakers.
It came down to a last-second bank shot at the end of overtime from GVSU’s Breland Hogan in front of a Wink Arena record 2,443 fans to give the Lakers the 82-80 victory on Saturday.
Despite the loss, the 21st-ranked Bulldogs secured the top seed in the GLIAC Tournament, which starts today. The GLIAC North Champions ended the season with the same conference record as South Champion Findlay at 16-3, but Ferris took home the top seed through the GLIAC tiebreaker system.
“They kind of took the fight to us to start the game, but I think we rebounded quite well and brought it back,” said Ferris head coach Bill Sall. “But like any game, it’s a game of runs…it was a physical and tough game.”
The Bulldogs will open the tournament by hosting eight-seed Saginaw Valley State today at 7 p.m. at Wink Arena. Ferris won both previous contests this year against the Cardinals.
The Bulldogs came out slow against the Lakers, as Grand Valley bolted out to a 10-point lead just three minutes into the game. But Ferris battled back to knot the score at 34-34 at halftime.
In the second half, senior guard Darien Gay took over for the Bulldogs, as he piled up 25 of his 31 points in the second half to keep the Bulldogs in striking distance in the second half. The Lakers led by eight with 8:18 remaining in regulation, but Ferris battled back to trail by only three with 15 seconds left.
Gay rose up for a three-point shot at the 15 second mark and was fouled, giving the Bulldogs a chance to tie the game. Gay sunk all three from the charity stripe and forced the overtime session with the score tied at 68-68.
Grand Valley took a five-point lead early in overtime, but Ferris took a 76-75 advantage with a minute left. After matching shots in the final minute, the Lakers came down the court in the final 10 seconds and Hogan put up his desperation heave at the buzzer to give the Lakers the victory.
“We’ve just got to go to practice on Monday and try to do better,” said senior center Justin Keenan. “We lost, sorry,” added Keenan when he was asked to talk about setting the GLIAC scoring record.
On Senior Day, Gay paced the team with his scoring effort while Keenan posted 18 points and nine rebounds. Keenan became the all-time leading scorer in GLIAC history to pass former Laker star John Flynn. Sophomore forward Daniel Sutherlin was the only other Bulldog in double-digit scoring with 12 points along with eight rebounds.
“I was just trying everything in my power to win a championship,” said Gay. “I was doing whatever I had to do to help us get the win.”
Hogan led the Laker effort with 27 points while teammate James Thomas racked up 20 points.
The Bulldogs end the regular season with only one home loss at Wink Arena and had a 12-game winning streak snapped in the loss. n