Tournament title takedown

Women’s basketball upsets Grand Valley State for GLIAC championship

The Bulldogs celebrate their victory over Grand Valley
The Bulldogs celebrate their victory over Grand Valley with the “Anchor Down” symbol. Photo courtesy of Ferris Athletics.

They call it March Madness for a reason: anyone can win any given day.

For Ferris  women’s basketball, the day was Sunday. The Bulldogs defeated top-seeded Grand Valley 59-51 in Allendale for their first GLIAC tournament championship in program history.

Ferris claimed the championship thanks to 39-point second half effort on the road. The Bulldogs’ defensive effort stifled the number two team in the nation to their third lowest point total on the season, including a field goal percentage of 33.9 and a three-point percentage of 11.8. While Grand Valley controlled scoring in the paint 34 to 30, Ferris answered back with a ten-point advantage in second chance points and six-point gain in fastbreak points.

“(Coach) continued to pound the idea of defense winning games,” Zoe Anderson said on the defensive performance. “We knew all these teams can score at an elite level, but the team that plays the hardest defense will win it all. We locked in the entire game and put together 40 minutes of good defensive basketball.”

Senior Adrienne Anderson led the Bulldogs with 18 points, three assists, and seven steals in the title contest. Kadyn Blanchard followed with 17 points and 10 rebounds for her first double-double performance of the season. Chloe Idoni added eight points and two blocks with Mallory McCartney adding nine rebounds.

Not only did the Bulldogs have to overcome the challenge of playing back to back games, but even had to overcome an issue off the floor the night before.

“Our hotel actually lost power that morning,” Zoe Anderson said. “We had a whole mix up of plan for the day. To still walk in there and control the game start to finish, it felt surreal.”

For the Bulldogs, the road to the tournament title certainly had its challenges on the court too. In Wednesday’s home quarterfinal opener, Ferris overcame an early six-point first quarter deficit with dominating second and fourth frames to beat the seventh-seeded Cardinals 82-68. Adrienne Anderson led the Bulldogs with 22 points, 15 of the coming the second half. Blanchard added 21 points with 7 rebounds and McCartney tallied 17 points, 10 assists, and five steals. Idoni and Zoe Anderson also contributed 11 and nine points respectively.

“They fought their tails off the entire way,” Westendorp said on the team’s performance. “We talked about being guaranteed 40 minutes and if you want another 40, you have to earn it. We definitely earned it.”

Following the quarterfinal victory, Ferris traveled to Allendale for Saturday’s semi-final matchup with number three seed Wayne State. The Warriors jumped out to a fifteen-point lead at halftime, outscoring the Bulldogs with a strong presence in the paint. Despite the deficit,  Westendorp’s squad erased the Wayne State lead with fifteen straight points to open the third quarter. Ferris finished the job with clutch three-point shooting in the final frame, including a game-clinching, banked three-point shot from McCartney with under 20 seconds to go.

“I remember setting the screen for Mallory,” Zoe Anderson said on the game-winning play. “When #2 came over to her, I was still 100% confident she was going to knock down that shot. It was such an amazing feeling to see that go in and know that we clinched it.”

The Bulldogs would then go onto win 62-60 to clinch their spot in the eventual Sunday final. Blanchard paced Ferris with 17 points, followed by Adrienne Anderson with 13 points and five steals. McCartney and Idoni both added nine points with Idoni tallying a team-high 12 rebounds. Zoe Anderson also contributed eight points and six boards.

Winning the GLIAC tournament punches an automatic ticket into the 2022 National Tournament for Ferris. The Bulldogs will be making their sixth tournament appearance all-time and first appearance since 2011. Ferris did qualify for the 2020 tournament, but ultimately were sent home due to the initial COVID-19 outbreak. For those that experienced the letdown like Adrienne Anderson, making it back to the tournament brings a huge fire of motivation.

“We’re so ready for it,” Zoe Anderson said to the media Tuesday. “Last time, COVID took away the opportunity of actually playing. We’re going in there ‘guns blazing’.”

After the official bracket was released Sunday night on the NCAA selection show, the Bulldogs earned the eighth overall seed in the Midwest region. Their first matchup will be March 11th, where Ferris will travel to top-seeded Ashland. When asked about the upcoming matchup,

Westendorp says the team is looking to repeat its Sunday magic.

“This past Sunday, we had to beat the number two team in the country in their gym with a hostile environment.” Now, we have to do it again. It’s still going to be a huge challenge, but it’s something we’re not unfamiliar with.”

To follow the women’s team postseason run, visit the “Women’s Basketball” tab at