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Louisville, Ky. - The Ferris State University men's basketball team saw its postseason run come to a close on Tuesday (March 15) evening as the Bulldogs fell to nationally second-ranked Bellarmine (Ky.) by a 85-66 score in the NCAA Division II Midwest Regional Championship Game at Knights Hall in Louisville.
The Bulldogs lost in the NCAA-II Sweet Sixteen round as the host Knights advanced onto the national quarterfinals and the NCAA-II Elite Eight March 23-26 in Springfield, Mass.
Ferris State's season ends with a 24-8 overall mark after back-to-back wins in the NCAA Tournament to reach the regional title contest for the first time since 2005.
In addition, the careers of four Bulldog seniors came to a close as Justin Keenan (Grand Rapids/Ottawa Hills), Darien Gay (Detroit/Henry Ford), Lou Williams (Muskegon Heights) and Matt DeHart (Greenville) played their final collegiate contests before a virtually sold-out Knights Hall crowd of more than 2,400 fans.
"I couldn't be prouder of this group of seniors and what they accomplished this season," said FSU head coach Bill Sall. "That's as good of a team as we've faced tonight, but we battled to the end."
The Bulldogs, who captured the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) Championship this season, fell to the Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC) champions despite holding a slim 39-37 edge at the break. Bellarmine opened the second half on a significant run to seize control and outscored FSU 48-27 over the final 20 minutes of play.
Gay led the Bulldogs with a team-high 16 points in his final collegiate contest while Keenan chipped in with 15 points and DeHart had 12 in the game. Both Keenan and sophomore guard Kenny Brown (Farmington Hills/Harrison), who had nine points after two consecutive 20-plus point games in the tournament, were named to the NCAA all-tournament team along with four Bellarmine players.
Ferris State shot 46% (23-50) for the floor and made 12-of-26 (46.2%) three-pointers to remain close for much of the way. The Bulldogs were eight-of-12 (66.7%) at the free throw line.
Meanwhile, the top-seeded Knights converted at a 54% (29-54) field goal clip and connected on 10-of-23 (43.5%) three's as FSU's five-day trip to Louisville came to a close. Bellarmine also was strong at the line by making 17-of-18 (94.4%) free throws and moved the ball extremely well throughout the contest with 19 assists.
Luke Sprague led Bellarmine with 24 points while Chris Dowe added 22 points, Justin Benedetti totaled 15 points with both Braydon Hobbs and Jeremy Kendle adding 10 points apiece. Sprague, Dowe and Benedetti were all named to the all-tournament team as well and Hobbs was tabbed as the Most Outstanding Player for the event.
Ferris was outrebounded 32-22 for the night as the Knights grabbed 11 offensive boards in the outing while improving to 30-2 overall this year.
FSU had only eight turnovers while Bellarmine had only seven in the contest. Both teams came up with only four steals with FSU finishing with two blocked shots compared to three for the hosts.
The Bulldogs had 12 assists for the game with seven coming from Gay. Junior guard Dontae Molden (Detroit/Pershing) added three assists in the loss.
Ferris State's 24 wins this year are the most since the Bulldogs' posted a 24-7 mark and also reached the NCAA-II Sweet Sixteen in the 2004-05 campaign. FSU finished as both the GLIAC Tournament and NCAA-II Midwest Regional Runners-Up this season.
Bulldog Bites: The Knights received 24 points from their reserves to only 15 for the Bulldogs' bench ..... Bellarmine outscored the Bulldogs 26-10 in the paint ..... Ferris held its largest lead at five points with 1:03 to go in the first half ..... The Knights garnered 12 points in second chance production to only five for FSU ....... Senior Lou Williams had a team-high seven rebounds in his final contest ....... Both Matt DeHart and Darien Gay hit four three-pointers apiece for Ferris.