The nationally fourth-ranked Ferris men’s basketball team is coming off a 78-67 victory Sunday, Jan. 28, over the Lake Superior State University (LSSU) Lakers in Wink Arena.
The highly anticipated “fight for first” matchup between the Lakers and the Bulldogs men’s teams to see who would take the top spot in the GLIAC did not disappoint.
Earlier this year, the Lakers handed the Bulldogs their first and only loss of the season in a 79-74 final on Dec. 16 at Bud Cooper Gymnasium in Sault Ste. Marie.
The matchup on Jan. 28 featured the GLIAC’s top two scoring attacks in the league. Ferris came into the contest in first place averaging 83.9 points per game and LSSU was second averaging 81.0 points per game.
The Bulldogs dominated the first half of play and took a 39-21 lead heading into the locker room. The Lakers, however, would receive a spark of their own as they cut the lead to three points late in the second half. The Bulldogs dominant offense and clutch free-throw shooting would prove to be too much for the Lakers in the end as the Bulldogs came out on top.
Ferris was lead in scoring by junior center Zach Hankins, who put up 24 points along with five blocks. Senior forward Noah King finished second in scoring with 14 points and a duo of senior guards in Drew Cushingberry and Peter Firlik added 10 points each.
“I thought we played really well in the first half. We knew that they were going to make a run just like any other good team and they are a good team but we stopped the run and got stops and rebounded to finish out the game,” Firlik said. “We played good defense on their shooters and best players and it was a great team win for us.”
The Bulldogs improved to 21-1 overall on the season with the win and 11-1 in GLIAC play to remain at the top of the standings. The Bulldogs also improved to 12-0 this season.
“Our team chemistry is our best attribute. We play together and we’re all unselfish,” junior forward Andrew Meacham said. “When you’re on the court, you just know that every single guy out there has got your back. If one of our players is having an off night, we know someone else will pick them up. It’s that feeling of togetherness that I think sets us apart from the rest of the teams.”
Last year, the team reached the NCAA-II Midwest Regional Semifinals for the second-straight year under head coach Andy Bronkema’s direction.
They also posted a school record 18 GLIAC league wins and the historic season closed with Ferris posting a 28-5 overall record. The 28 wins were the most in school history and this season it looks as if they are poised to break that record.
“Coach Bronkema just keeps reminding us that everyone says that we are being hunted and that we are the team everyone wants to knock off,” sophomore guard Greg Williams said. “He reminds us that it’s not true and that we have to be the hunters and not the hunted. He tells us to just go out and attack, be aggressive and have more energy then the other team.”
Ferris will remain at home for a two-game homestand against the Northwood University Timberwolves Thursday, Feb. 1, and the Saginaw Valley State Cardinals Saturday, Feb. 3, in Wink Arena.
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