Postgame Press Conference
(Coach Bill Sall, Dietrich Lever, Daniel Sutherlin)
Big Rapids, Mich. - It was a classic back and forth matchup, but in the end the Ferris State University men's basketball squad pulled out a hard-fought 64-59 triumph over Saginaw Valley State in Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) North Division play on Saturday (Feb. 4) at FSU's Jim Wink Arena.
The lead changed hands 17 times in the game and the score was tied six times before FSU tallied the final five points in the outing to remain in first place in the GLIAC North standings with six regular-season games remaining.
FSU, which is the defending GLIAC North Champion, improved to 13-7 overall and 10-3 in league play while SVSU fell to 10-11 overall and 6-8 in conference action. It also gave FSU a game and a half lead over Michigan Tech atop the divisional standings following the Huskies' home setback on Saturday.
Ferris State won its fourth consecutive contest behind a game-high 21 points from junior forward Daniel Sutherlin (Detroit/Renaissance). Freshman guard Dietrich Lever (Detroit/Canton) added 13 points in a breakout game and made several keys down the stretch to fuel the Bulldogs.
Saginaw Valley State built a nine-point advantage late in the first half and owned a 37-31 lead at the break. However, they were outscored 33-22 over the final 20 minutes by the Bulldogs, who avenged an earlier 79-59 road setback against the Cardinals on Jan. 7 in University Center.
SVSU led by seven points with 10:28 remaining in the contest, but FSU closed the game with a 22-10 run to pull out the victory. The Cardinals still held a one-point advantage with 3:42 to go, but a layup by Lever gave the Bulldogs a lead they would not relinquish.
Saginaw Valley State's Michael Fugate tied the outing up at 59-59 with 2:37 left. However, FSU senior guard Donate Molden (Detroit/Pershing) answered with the go-ahead jumper with only 33 seconds remaining.
The Cardinals had a chance to play for the final shot, but turned the ball over. After a missed free throw by Molden, they turned it over again and Lever connected on two free throws to make it a four-point game. Sutherlin added a final made free throw in the final two seconds to account for the final margin.
FSU shot only 39.7% from the floor, but had only six turnovers in the game compared to 14 for the visitors, which helped lead to a 15-9 margin in points off turnovers. The Bulldogs also grabbed 11 offensive rebounds to post a decisive 16-2 edge in second chance scoring.
The Bulldogs held SVSU to only 34.8% shooting over the final 20 minutes and eight total field goals on the defensive side.
Ferris State sank four-of-18 (22.2%) three's and 10-of-14 (71.4%) free throws. Meanwhile, SVSU shot 37% (20-54) overall from the floor and was six-of-15 (40%) beyond the arc along with 13-of-14 (92.9%) at the stripe.
Both teams finished the game with 38 rebounds and 11 assists apiece with Molden contributing five assists to spark FSU. Sutherlin recorded three of FSU's seven steals while Lever added two more. The Cardinals had only three steals in the contest.
SVSU, which played without starting guard Greg Foster, was led by Eli Redman's 18 points and 13 rebounds. Chris Webb added 11 points with George Goodman scoring 10 points off the bench, all in the first half.
In addition to Sutherlin and Lever, the Bulldogs also received eight points and six boards from Molden with freshman guard Drew Lehman (Toledo/Central Catholic) contributing seven points and four boards. The Cardinals held FSU junior guard Kenny Brown (Farmington Hills/Harrison) to only three points, but he added six rebounds and three assists.
FSU also received a team-high eight rebounds to go with six points and seven blocked shots by senior forward Jerrell Sanders (Grand Rapids/Creston). His seven blocks was one shy of tying the school record of eight swats set almost a year ago at home also against SVSU by former Bulldog forward Lou Williams, who was in attendance on Saturday.
The Bulldogs overall recorded nine blocked shots in the game to only two for the Cardinals.
Ferris State also received 24 points off its bench to only 14 for the SVSU reserves.
The Bulldogs wrap up their five-game homestand with a pair of league contests at home next week. Lake Erie visits Wink Arena for the first-time ever on Thursday, Feb. 9, with tipoff set for 8 p.m. (ET) in Big Rapids. Ashland then comes to town on Saturday, Feb. 11, for a 3 p.m. (ET) GLIAC tilt.