The sixth-seeded Bulldogs downed fourth-seed Wayne State in the first round before dropping seven-seed Drury (Mo.) in the round of 32, setting up a Sweet Sixteen matchup with Midwest region top seed Bellarmine on March 15.
After dropping a 73-71 heartbreaker to Wayne State in the GLIAC Championship on March 6, the Bulldogs flipped the script and downed the Warriors in a rematch in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Ferris picked up its first NCAA Tournament win in six years with a 90-88 victory on March 12 in the Midwest region quarterfinal game that pit the two foes against each other for the second time in a week.
Behind a 31-point effort from senior center Justin Keenan and a 27-point outburst off the bench from Brown, the Bulldogs held off a furious rally from the Warriors in the final minute to preserve the win.
“Kenny played his best game of the year for us tonight,” said Ferris head coach Bill Sall. “We’ve made a lot of strides this year and it was a battle out there tonight…we had a great job of everyone stepping up tonight.”
Wayne State outscored Ferris 14-7 in the final minute of the contest to pull the Warriors within two with five seconds left, but WSU’s Ike Udanoh could not get a shot off in the final seconds and the Bulldogs came away victorious.
The win was the first NCAA Tournament victory for Ferris since a win over Southern Indiana in the semi-finals of the 2004-05 tournament.
Ferris carried the momentum to its contest against Drury as the team battled to an 83-76 victory over the Panthers to move on to the Sweet 16.
The Bulldogs played a strong first half to lead 46-35 at halftime, but the Panthers clawed back to take a four-point lead with eight minutes left in regulation. But a 10-1 run and seven free throws in the final 1:12 helped Ferris hold on for the clutch victory.
“For these seniors, it’s another great opportunity to make a great stride for this program,” said Sall. “It’s exciting for us and we’ll see what happens.”
A team-high 22 points from Brown and a 19-point and nine rebound effort from Keenan helped the Bulldogs reach their forth regional final in program history. The Bulldogs also made the Panthers pay for turning the ball over in the contest, as Ferris owned a 17-13 edge in points off of turnovers by forcing 15 miscues.
The Bulldogs will have little time to celebrate the victories as the matchup against 29-2 Bellarmine is slated for March 15 at 7 p.m. in Louisville, Ky. Bellarmine took down eight-seed Indianapolis, 84-70, in the opening round before pulling out a slim 87-82 victory over fourth-seed Northern Kentucky in the second round.
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