Big Rapids, Mich. - The Ferris State University men's basketball squad rallied back from a 16-point first half defecit and nearly upset NCAA Division I Central Michigan on Saturday (Nov. 12) night in a 65-60 setback at McGuirk Arena in Mount Pleasant.
The Bulldogs missed their first 12 shots from the floor and were down 18-2 with 11:06 left in the first half before coming back to trim the deficit to only two points at 61-59 on a three-pointer from senior guard Dontae Molden with 26 seconds remaining in the contest.
However, Central Michigan's Derek Jackson sank four free throws in the final 25 seconds to seal the win in the season opener for CMU. The Bulldogs dropped to 0-2 on the year following back-to-back nights against NCAA Division I competition to open the year as FSU also suffered a 59-33 season-opening loss at Michigan on Friday (Nov. 11) night.
The contest counted as an official regular-season game for both teams and the Chippewas had to claw their way to a win against the defending Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) North Division Champions.
After the two teams combined for only six points in the first four minutes of the outing, the Chippewas went on a 14-0 went to grab a 16-point edge nine minutes into the game. The Bulldogs eventually trimmed the lead back to seven with 5:54 to go in the half on a three-pointer from Molden before trailing by 13 points at the break.
In the second half, Ferris State continued to battle back against CMU. FSU got to within two points with 9:21 remaining on a trey from junior guard Kenny Brown before the Chippewas pushed the margin back to nine points with 2:55 left.
Ferris answered with two free throws from junior forward Daniel Sutherlin and five-straight points from Molden to cut the lead down to two with 26 ticks left before free throws clinched the win for Central Michigan.
Brown paced FSU with a game-high 20 points in the contest and added six rebounds in 36 minutes of action. He was joined in double-figures by both Molden and Sutherlin with 11 points each.
On the opposite side, standout Trey Zeigler led CMU with 11 points and 12 rebounds in a double-double effort. Austin Keel added 12 points off the bench with all 12 coming in the initial half by making four three-pointers. CMU also got 10 points from Jackson.
The Bulldogs were limited to a 34.9% (22-63) shooting figure for the night, but made 11-of-28 (39.3%) three-pointers to go with five-of-11 (45.5%) free throws.
CMU was held to 37% (20-54) shooting and converted seven-of-21 (33.3%) three's in addition to a 18-of-31 (58.1%) effort at the stripe.
Central Michigan held a big 50-36 rebounding edge and had 17 offensive boards to only 12 for the Bulldogs. They turned the ball over, though, 16 times with FSU having only 14 miscues.
The Bulldogs finished with 14 assists, nine steals and a blocked shot compared to CMU's 12 assists, 10 steals and six blocks.
Senior forward Jerrell Sanders added 10 rebounds, five assists, four points, three steals and a blocked shot for Ferris State and FSU also received seven points off the bench from freshman guard Drew Lehman.
Central Michigan never trailed in the game and outscored FSU 20-10 in second chance scoring along with 11-2 in fast break production. The Chippewas also had 33 points off the bench to 14 for the Bulldogs.
Ferris State will return to action next Saturday, Nov. 19, as the Bulldogs play their first game against Division II competition when they visit regional opponent Lewis (Ill.) for a 3 p.m. (ET) non-league tilt at Neil Carey Arena in Romeoville, Ill.