In a closely contested game that pitted the top teams in the GLIAC against one another, the Bulldogs came out on top, beating the Saginaw Valley State Cardinals 62-57.
Thanks to some costly turnovers and missed shots early in the game, the Bulldogs were unable to score on a field goal attempt until 5:30 had elapsed, at which point they were already trailing 8-3.
As the first half dragged on, the Cardinals continued to build momentum, leading the Bulldogs by up to 11 points at one time.
The Bulldogs refused to say die as they cut the lead back down to just 2 points, thanks in part to junior forward Josh Fleming who scored 6 points and recorded both a block and an offensive rebound in the final 5 minutes before halftime alone.
The Cardinals may have taken the lead into the locker room, but the Bulldogs had shown flashes of brilliance and were looking to turn the tides in the next half.
Both teams exchanged blows as the second half began, until the Bulldogs were able to take their first lead of the game when a steal by junior center Jared Stolicker lead to a 3-pointer by senior guard Drew Lehman to put the score at 47-46.
The lead would not hold for long, as the Cardinals retaliated and went up 54-49 with 5:34 left to play.
The Bulldogs battled back before the time expired, and maintained the lead until the buzzer, winning 62-57.
Lehman lead the team with 20 points and went a perfect 6-6 from the free throw line to keep the game out of SVSU’s reach late in the game. Stolicker ripped down a team-high 17 rebounds, while Fleming netted 13 points and 3 blocks.
Contributing key minutes off the bench was junior guard Jibreel Jackson, who swiped 2 steals and scored an efficient 13 points, going 4-4 from the floor and 4-7 from the line.
This win elevates the Bulldogs to undisputed leader of the GLIAC, as they boast a 13-1 conference record.
The next time the Bulldogs hit the hardwood will be Feb. 2 on the road against Grand Valley State. The opening tipoff is scheduled for 8:00 p.m.