The Ferris State men’s basketball team started their season with 2-0 this weekend against two different Panther teams with new and returning players taking the stage.
On Nov. 12, the Bulldogs capitalized over Ohio Dominican 83-76 inside Jim Wink Arena.The Bulldogs took a 46-41 halftime lead and pushed the margin to double-digits multiple times in the second half before Ohio Dominican came back and grabbed the lead late in the game. With six-straight points from senior forward Dorian Aluyi, the Bulldogs rushed back and seized control of the game to take the win.
“We started out well this game, we let them back in the game, and we finished strong,”Aluyi said. “In the second half, I made first-time buckets, and I had confidence in myself for my shots to start dropping, and I was happy to make that contribution for my team.”
Senior guard Walt Kelser led the Bulldogs in scoring with 20 points. Sophomore wing Ben Davidson added 12 points, Vejas Grazulis scored 11 points, and Logan Ryan added 10 points for the Bulldog’s first game of the year.
Ohio Dominican was led by Alek West, who kept the Panthers in the game with a contest-best 25 points to go with 10 rebounds and nine assists in a near triple-double execution. The panthers Marcus Johnson added 14 points off the bench, with Zach Szul chipping in 13 points and Max Stepaniak contributing 10 points.
“We are happy to be back and to be back in front of fans and we are still learning as the season progress,” Kelser said.”We had a good game, but we have to still stay focused.”
Ferris shot 50 percent from the floor, and the Bulldogs connected on six-of-12 threes compared to the panther’s 42.6 shooting percentage on six-of-22 from long range. Ferris also went 21-of-26 at the line, with the Panthers managing an 18-of-26 at the line.
“We had a lot of positives in today’s game with new players and finding a lot of things out with predicted growing pains,” head coach Andy Bronkema said. “To give up a big lead and take it back on a 10-2 run, we have confidence, and we have to put together for long stretches of time. We are toying with team chemistry, trying to get where we need to be.”
While Ohio Dominican outrebounded the Bulldogs 37-34 for the night, Ferris did force 17 turnovers and dished out 22 assists on 28 made baskets.
Aluyi finished with eight points and had seven rebounds for the Bulldogs, while Jimmy Scholler totaled eight assists.
Four different players saw their first regular-season action in a Bulldog uniform.
In the second game on Sunday Nov.14, the Bulldogs dominated the Missouri Drury Panthers with a final score of 124-77. The Bulldogs’ 124 points was only two shy of the all-time school scoring record of 126 set against Hillsdale in 1988, but it was historically the most points ever scored inside the current Jim Wink Arena. The 19 made three’s are the most in program history.
Ferris heated up early to built a strong first-half lead, while shooting 60.5% from the floor, taking a 63-45 halftime lead. Kelser contributed 24 points and graduate transfer Lee Higgins with 16 points during the first half.
The Bulldogs turned the heat up a notch and pushed the margin to triple digits and extended the lead to as many as 53 points down the second. The game became one sided as the Bulldogs took the show with the 47 point blowout to end the game. Davidson ended with 26 points, Kelser had 40 points, Higgins with 18 points and Aluyi contributed 13 points.
“We had fun with bunch playing Ferris basketball, with the rim the size of an ocean for some of our players,” Davidson said. ” Westarted getting going with everyone scoring and making plays. This shows how dangerous we are on the court.”
Ferris maintained a 60 percent shooting performance throughout their game against Drury and handed the Panthers their first loss of the year.
Ferris also hit 47 of their 78 attempts, and they connected on 19 of their 37 three-point tries for 51 percent. Drury shot 36 percent going 22 for 62 from the field. The Panthers hit 7 of 23 three-point attempts and were 26 for 38 from the free-throw line.
The Bulldogs will be back in action on Wednesday Nov. 17. for another big regional matchup as they hit the road to face nationally seventh-ranked Hillsdale.