The Ferris State University men’s basketball team opened up the 2011-12 season with back-to-back losses to Division I teams.
“We take into consideration that they are Division I teams,” senior guard Dontae Molden said. “It was a good learning experience, and we feel confident going into the Division II season.”
The Bulldogs travelled to Ann Arbor Friday to take on the nationally-ranked Michigan Wolverines at the recently renovated Crisler Arena. The game was the first regular-season contest for both teams as well as the first-ever meeting between the programs.
Freshman guard Dietrich Lever noticed significant differences between the high school level he has been accustomed to and the Division I level he has experienced to start the season.
“It [the game] has been way faster, and the guys have been much stronger,” he said. “It wasn’t too intimidating though. I’m excited to start playing Division II teams.”
After reaching the third round of the NCAA Division I tournament last season, Michigan is ranked 18th in both the Associated Press and USA Today preseason polls. FSU stayed with the Wolverines for most of the game, but Michigan pulled away in the second half on its way to posting a 59-33 victory.
Over the final 20 minutes, the Wolverines outscored the Bulldogs 37-17 on 51.9 percent second-half shooting. FSU trailed U of M 22-16 at halftime.
“We need to be more efficient on offense and run our plays,” Molden said. “We can’t have droughts where we don’t score for five or seven minutes.”
Junior forward Daniel Sutherlin paced FSU scorers with 11 points. Senior forward Jerrell Sanders added nine points and seven rebounds in the contest.
The Wolverine defense forced 17 turnovers and kept the Bulldogs to 28 percent shooting.
Saturday, FSU rallied back from a 16 point deficit to nearly defeat CMU but ultimately fell to the Chippewas 65-60 at McGuirk Arena in Mt. Pleasant.
Play started out slow as the two teams combined for just six points in the first four minutes. CMU then went on a 14-0 run to build a 16-point edge over the Bulldogs.
In the second half, FSU cut the lead to two points with 9:21 remaining, but the Chippewas pushed the margin back to nine points with 2:55 left in the contest.
“We’re working together well and communicating out on the floor,” Molden said. “Our defense has definitely been improving.”
Junior guard Kenny Brown led the Bulldogs with a game-high 20 points. Molden and Sutherlin added 11 points each. Sanders contributed 10 rebounds, five assists, four points and three steals.
FSU will return to action Saturday against Lewis University for the Bulldogs’ first Division II match-up of the season. The Flyers fell to DePaul University 70-63 in an exhibition game before defeating Azusa Pacific 98-77 in another exhibition contest.
“This week we should be going back to the basics, looking at some old offenses and watching some film of Lewis,” Molden said. “We’ll see how it goes.”
The non-league game is scheduled to tipoff at 3 p.m.