With just six games left on the schedule, every game counts for the Bulldogs (15-7, 9-5 GLIAC) who currently sit in third place in the GLIAC standings.
Ferris pulled out a 72-55 victory against last-placed Davenport Thursday, Feb. 3 but fell to first-placed Grand Valley 75-68 Saturday, Feb. 5.
The Bulldogs have 26 points in the GLIAC standings, compared to 36 for the Lakers.
In Ferris’s victory over Davenport, a big reason for their success was on the offensive side early in the game. The Bulldogs came out hot in the first quarter, jumping out to an early 22-14 lead. Zoe Anderson led with eight points.
“It was nice to get a good rhythm,” head coach Kurt Westendorp said. “It was nice to win our opening tip play and get a layup four seconds into the game. It kind of set the tone for us.”
After getting out to a hot start in the first quarter, the Bulldogs stayed efficient on the offensive side. They outscored Davenport in quarters two and three to stretch their lead going into the fourth.
It was a good all-around effort for the Bulldogs on Thursday, with four players scoring in double digits in the game. Leading the way for the Bulldogs in scoring was Adrienne Anderson with 18, Kadyn Blanchard with 13 and Zoe Anderson and Chloe Idoni with 10 each.
The Bulldogs finished the game shooting 43.9% from the field, 31.8% from three-point range and 71.4% from the free-throw line. They also added 22 assists.
Even though the Bulldogs had a good offensive night, they played well on defense down the stretch. The team finished with 46 rebounds and outrebounded the Panthers by 10.
The Bulldogs also created 15 turnovers, which resulted in 13 points. Adrienne Anderson led the way with six steals.
“Defensively I just hone in,” Adrienne Anderson said. “I know my assignment and that’s what I contribute, that’s my role. I know I want to execute my role to the best of my abilities. My role is to get stops, and that’s what I’m going to do.”
This was the Bulldog’s first game back after a three-game road trip where they went 1-2. Being back at home and able to have a few days of extra preparation and rest was well needed.
“It was nice on Monday and Tuesday to kind of get to focus on ourselves,” Westendorp said. “We were able to work on a little bit of our things defensively.”
Adrienne Anderson said her team will need a “killer mentality” to keep winning games down the stretch.
In the Bulldogs’ second season matchup with Grand Valley, they were outscored 20-14 in the first quarter. Grand Valley beat the Bulldogs 67-59 Jan. 14 and also got out a first quarter lead in that game as well.
“I felt like we did a pretty good job offensively most of the game,” Westendorp said following Saturday’s loss. “I felt like where my qualms are is on the defensive end of the court. We’d get a good little run, close the gap real quick and then give up two or three buckets in a row. You look up at the scoreboard and feel like you’re making progress and then [you’re] still [down] eight.”
The Bulldogs went into halftime trailing 48-43, but scored just 12 points in the third quarter and saw the Lakers take a 10 point lead into the fourth.
Ferris outscored Grand Valley 23-20 in the fourth quarter, but it was not enough and they fell to the Lakers by seven points, their second loss by eight points or less to the Lakers this season.
“Teams don’t score 68 points against Grand Valley that often, and we didn’t shoot the ball very well either,” Westendorp said. “I’m really pleased with the way we played offensively.”
The Bulldogs shot 36.9% from the field, including 28.6% from the three-point line. 68 points is the second highest point total the Lakers have allowed to an opponent all season. Michigan Tech scored 70 against Grand Valley in a losing effort Jan. 20.
Ferris got 19 points from Chloe Idoni, 14 from Adrienne Anderson and 13 from Mallory McCartney. No other Bulldog reached double digit scoring.
Adrienne Anderson led the way with eight rebounds. Mya Hiram came off the bench to collect six rebounds, four of them on the offensive glass.
The Bulldogs outrebounded Grand Valley 38-32, including a 15-6 advantage on the offensive glass. 15 offensive rebounds is the highest mark the Bulldogs have against a GLIAC opponent this season.
The Lakers shot 49.1% from the floor and 42.9% from three. Ferris recorded 11 turnovers and forced the Lakers into nine.
“We didn’t get many defensive stops and we allowed them to shoot better from the floor,” Idoni said. “We were solid on offense but we need to get defensive stops at the same time.”
With both Ferris and Grand Valley near the top of the GLIAC standings, a potential postseason rematch between the two teams is not out of the question.
“I would definitely not mind a rematch in Allendale that first Sunday of March,” Westendorp said. “I would look forward to that. Hopefully we can earn our way there.”
The Bulldogs will travel on the road to face Lake Superior State Thursday, Feb. 10 at 5:30 p.m. before returning home to face Northwood Monday, Feb. 14 at 5:30 p.m.