Big Rapids, Mich. - The Ferris State University men's basketball squad battled nationally 11th-ranked Winona State (Minn.) much of the way before falling 69-56 in non-league play on Sunday (Nov. 25) afternoon at FSU's Jim Wink Arena.
The Bulldogs returned from the holiday break and held a slim 33-31 lead over the perennial Division II power at the break, but the Warriors came back to post the win as FSU wrapped up a three-game non-conference homestand.
Ferris State shot only 23.1% (6-26) over the final 20 minutes after shooting 42.9% (12-28) in the opening half against Winona State, which improved to 6-1 overall this season. The Warriors return four starters from a team that finished 25-3 overall a season ago.
The Bulldogs led by as many as five points with 4:36 remaining in the opening half before the Warriors closed to within two points at the break. Winona State took the lead for good with 16:39 remaining in the contest although the Bulldogs trailed by only five points with 12:30 left in the contest.
Winona State outscored FSU 38-23 over the final half as the Warriors shot 47.8% (11-23) in the second period after being held to 38.7% (12-31) shooting in the initial frame.
Senior guard Kenny Brown (Farmington Hills/Harrison) made his first start of the season and led the Bulldogs with 16 points, but had only four points in the final half. Sophomore guard Drew Lehman (Toldo/Catholic Central) added 13 points in the setback for FSU as the Bulldogs fell to 1-2 overall on the year.
The Bulldogs also received eight points and a game-high tying 10 rebounds from senior forward Daniel Sutherlin (Detroit/Renaissance) along with four points, six boards and a contest-high four steals from redshirt freshman center Jared Stolicker (Middleville/Thornapple-Kellogg). Sophomore guard Dietrich Lever (Detroit/Canton) chippped in with six points, three boards and two steals.
Meanwhile, the Warriors received 11 points from Zander Culver, who hit three treys off the bench. Xavier Humphrey added 10 points while Kellen Taylor netted nine points, 10 rebounds and a game-high seven assists. Caleb Palkert also had nine points in reserve for Winona State, which held a decisive 28-9 advantage in points off the bench.
Six of FSU's nine points off the bench came late in the game from junior guard Bryant Orange (Chicago/Simeon).
Ferris State limited returning All-American center Clayton Vette of Winona State to only eight points as he played only three minutes in the opening half due to foul trouble.
Overall, Winona State shot 42.6% for the day compared to FSU's 33.3% figure. The Warriors were six-of-17 (35.3%) from beyond the arc and hit 17-of-19 (89.5%) free throws. Ferris State was five-of-21 (23.8%) from downtown and 15-of-25 (60%) at the line. The Bulldogs sank only a single three-pointer (1-11) in the final half.
FSU did own a slim 36-35 rebounding edge against a bigger Winona State lineup and grabbed 13 offensive boards to 10 offensive caroms for the visitors, who had beat Northwood 74-67 on Saturday in Midland.
The Bulldogs finished with nine steals, six assists and four blocked shots to go with 17 turnovers while Winona State had 12 assists, nine steals and three blocks with 13 miscues. WSU posted a 11-10 margin in points off turnovers in addition to a 12-6 advantage in second chance production.
The contest represented the second-ever series' matchup between FSU and Winona State as the Bulldogs had won the only previous meeting back in the 1992-93 campaign. Sunday's outing featured nine lead changes and the contest was tied eight different times. Winona State, which is guided by Mike Leaf, won Division II national championships in 2006 and 2008 along with being the 2007 national runner-up.
The Bulldogs will open Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) action on the road this Thursday, Nov. 29, as they visit Lake Erie for a 5:30 p.m. (ET) tipoff in Painesville, Ohio. The game will be the first of a men's and women's league doubleheader versus the Storm.
FSU then faces Ashland on Saturday, Dec. 1, in Ohio with the men's contest slated to open the twinbill starting at 1 p.m. (ET). Both doubleheaders can be heard live on Sunny 97.3 FM and the Bulldog Sports Network online at FerrisStateBulldogs.com.