It’s over. Fun while it lasted, the Ferris State men’s basketball team couldn’t overcome rival Lake Superior State in their NCAA tournament first round game.
The hoops squad won the GLIAC Tournament Championship the prior weekend, prevailing in an electrifying title game against Lake Superior State 87-82.
Lake Superior State was the top seed in the GLIAC tournament, and because of their impressive 23-5 record during the season they had home court advantage throughout the playoffs.
The Bulldogs, who had lost by 22 in their game on the road against the Lakers earlier this season, jumped out to a 31-8 lead in the first half. Ferris State took a 14 point lead into halftime, and although the Lakers rallied in the second half they never led. Senior guard Drew Lehman came up huge for the Bulldogs, scoring a career high 38 points.
Eight teams made the GLIAC tournament, and in the first round playing at home Ferris State beat Ashland 79-67. Ferris State dominated defensively, holding Ashland to only 38.1% shooting from the field.
After advancing to the semifinals, Ferris State made a statement with a blowout win against Walsh 81-65. The Bulldogs were on a mission defensively, holding Walsh to only 27 points in the first half, and 36.7% shooting in the game. Ferris State had a balanced scoring attack in the game, with four players finishing in double digits.
Although the Bulldogs likely would have gained a bid to the Division II National Championship Tournament without winning the GLIAC tournament, the victory made their bid automatic. Ferris State earned a five-seed in the tournament, and their opponent in the first round was a familiar foe: Lake Superior State.
Ferris State lost in the first round to LSSU in overtime, 78-69. The Bulldogs had a five point lead with 47 seconds remaining, but late game heroics by Lakers’ junior forward Jake Blake and a dominant press by the Lakers defense forced the game into overtime where LSSU dominated.
It was a successful campaign for Ferris State, as the team finished 23-9 on the year, and made it to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2011. Although the season ended in gut-wrenching fashion, there is reason for optimism next year with three starters from this season returning.
The Dawgs reeled off 16 consecutive wins to open the regular season, including a beating of Division I Bowling Green State.
A late season slump to the tune of a five-game losing streak ended Ferris State’s bid for a regular season conference title, but the tournament proved all they needed.
This marks the third time a Ferris team lost an encore performance in the Division II NCAA Tournament this year.
Football defeated Ohio Dominican in what was widely viewed as the winner-take-all midseason game, and then subsequently lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament to the Ohio Dominican Panthers at home.
In a more strikingly similar fashion, the Volleyball team defeated Grand Valley State in Allendale to win the GLIAC tournament, and then was matched with the Lakers again for the first round of the NCAA tournament.
The Lakers again hosted the contest where Ferris was unable to come out on top in repeat fashion.