A weekend sweep in the last homestand of the regular season ensured another 20 win season for the Bulldogs.
In his 10 years as head coach, Andy Bronkema has only had one season where the team has had less than 20 wins. With wins over Wayne State and Saginaw Valley last weekend, he adds another season to the tally.
Both Wayne State and Saginaw Valley came into Wink Arena on the bottom half of the GLIAC standings, but in this conference, it can be anybody’s game on any given night.
It was all Bulldogs (22-9 16-4 GLIAC) on Thursday, as they cruised to an easy victory over the Warriors with a final score of 85-58. From the jump, the offense was firing on all cylinders. Ethan Erickson sank six three’s in the contest, closing the game with a team high 20 points. With a more spread out scoring effort, just two other Bulldogs reached double digits, as Solomon Oraegbu notched 19 and Ben Davidson had 10.
“I thought a lot of players made good plays today and contributions,” Bronkema said.
Ferris made second chances for the Warriors a small worry, as they edged a 49-30 difference in rebounds, including 12 on the offensive side. Dolapo Olayinka and Mykel Bingham did the most damage with 12 and seven boards, respectively. The Bulldog’s shared the love, as 10 players finished with at least one assist, and nine out of the 10 who saw the floor scored a point in Thursday’s contest.
The Bulldogs barely missed the 50% mark from the field in shooting, going 33-67. Wayne State shot only 37% for field goals and 40% (6/15) from beyond the arc. Missing two key players, the Warriors were lead in points scored by Ray Williams with 18 points.
“Two of their main players weren’t here today,” Bronkema said. “That makes it interesting; you don’t know how they’re really built.”
A possibility at three wins in a row and another 20 win season was on the line when Saginaw Valley came to town two days later. And with a record that doesn’t accurately express the abilities of the team, the Cardinals were hungry for the upset. Ultimately, it was the Bulldogs that got the win in a close 80-75 contest.
It was an interesting first half, as Ferris jumped to control the game early. However, by halftime the Cardinals were within eight and had some momentum coming out of the locker room. The hope of a comeback was snuffed quickly, as the Bulldogs hit multiple threes after the break.
Davidson reminded the defense how dangerous he can be with space beyond the arc, as he went 4-5 on threes to finish the game with 16 points. Olayinka brought much needed energy by putting up 14 points. Vejas Grazulis ended the game with nine and Reece Hazelton had eight, but it was Oraegbu who led the team in scoring with 19 points in total.
“They made big plays, big shots. They just stayed right there,” Bronkema said.
Going 45% from the floor, it took a total team effort to stay level headed when the shots weren’t falling. Saginaw Valley caught a case of the misses with just a 43% shooting performance, while netting seven of 26 from the deep line.
Ferris barely edged out the Cardinals in rebounding. In a final tally of 37-35, the Bulldogs came up big with nine offensive boards and more opportunities to get another bucket.
When the final whistle blew, another 20 win season was in the books for the Bulldogs. A story of continued success and a tradition of excellence is being continued at least through this 2022-23 season.
“I’m just so thankful for the guys that decided to come here and decided to sign up for being a Ferris State Bulldog,” Bronkema said. “We’ve had a number of just wonderful players and wonderful people, and that’s how you win some games.”
With the two weekend wins, the Bulldogs are just a half game back from the top spot in the GLIAC. Now at a record of 20-6 overall and 11-6 in conference, a three game road trip will close out the regular season for the Bulldogs. The team will start the first game of the road trip against Lake State University on Saturday, Feb. 18, hoping to avenge the mid season loss at home against the Lakers earlier this year.