Ferris’ men’s basketball team grabbed the attention in the sporting world when they fought to the very end against Michigan State Thursday, Oct. 26.
The Bulldogs led 38-35 at halftime against the Spartans, who are ranked No. 2 nationally in Division 1 but couldn’t hold on as they fell just short of the upset, 80-72.
The buzz in East Lansing heading into the game was the hype surrounding returning sophomore Miles Bridges and stout freshman Jaren Jackson. The two were expected to lead the Spartans to a blowout victory over Ferris State. Things changed when the Dawgs took a 12-2 lead into the first timeout of the game just over a few minutes in.
“Our guys were passing the ball around. We got some open shots and we made them at first. It was a good start for us. They missed a few and we made a few,” Head Coach Andy Bronkema said.
As the hype surrounding Bridges and Jackson was beginning to shift to Ferris’ Noah King, who had the hot hand from beyond the three-point line early, the Spartans responded with a 22-5 run to put them in the lead 24-17. While trailing 28-27, the Bulldogs began an 11-7 run over the final 3:43 of the first half to take a 38- 35 lead into halftime.
As if trailing at halftime wasn’t enough, the Spartans were also concerned after Bridges went down hard late in the first half. Bridges landed on his head when attempting to make a play against Jaylin McFadden but managed to return to the game and finished with 19 points and six rebounds.
The Bulldogs were led by King, who paced both teams in the first half with 11 points while starter Drew Cushingbery and D’angelo Hughes, who came off the bench, both added six a piece. Cushingberry and McFadden also paced both teams with five rebounds in the first half.
Ferris didn’t let the pressure of leading the second-best team in the nation at halftime get to them as the Bulldogs came out strong again in the second half. The teams traded shots early before the Bulldogs took a 48-46 lead with 14:06 to play when Hughes hit a three-pointer.
Spartan sophomore guard Cassius Winston, who finished with 26 points and five assists drained a three of his own that started a 12-4 run, putting the Spartans back on top 58-52 with 10:41 left in the game. Ferris kept on fighting as they battled their way back to a 60-60 tie with just 7:05 to play.
“Certainly in the second half, the rebounding part of the game changed and the second-chance points were too much for us,” Bronkema said. “Happy on one hand but you always put a game plan together to win the game. We didn’t execute it well enough.”
The Spartans used an 18-5 run over the course of the next five minutes to take the biggest lead of the game, 78-65. The Bulldogs battled back and closed the lead but ran out of time as the Spartans came away with the 80-72 victory.
The Bulldogs were led by Hughes’ 14 points on the night while King and Cushingberry both added 13 of their own. Cushingberry added six rebounds and four assists to his total while Hankins tailed 12 points and a team-leading eight rebounds.
The Bulldogs are coming off a 28-5 record from a year ago and the team looks to use the game against Michigan State as a propeller into what hopes to be a promising year. The Bulldogs kick off their regular season action 1 p.m. Friday, Nov. 3 in the Hall of Fame Classic when they take on St. Thomas.
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