Big Rapids, Mich. - The Ferris State University men's basketball squad picked up perhaps its biggest victory of the season as the Bulldogs beat preseason divisional favorite Michigan Tech 74-66 for their third consecutive win on Thursday (Jan. 10) night at FSU's Jim Wink Arena.
Ferris State topped the Huskies in the first Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) North Division matchup for either team this campaign. With the win, the Bulldogs improved to 7-6 overall and 6-3 in the league standings while MTU fell to 10-3 overall and 7-2 in conference play.
The Bulldogs received solid play from the backcourt trio to senior guard Kenny Brown (Farmington Hills/Harrison) along with sophomore guards Dietrich Lever (Detroit/Canton) and Drew Lehman (Toledo/Central Catholic) as all three reached double-digits.
Brown paced FSU with a game-high tying 18 points and dished out four assists in the victory. Meanwhile, Lehman netted 16 points along with four assists while Lever poured in 15 points and had a pair of assists to help the Bulldog cause.
The Bulldogs jumped in front of Michigan Tech early and led by 11 points only 3:11 into the game. However, the Huskies responded and took a five-point edge with 5:28 left in the opening stanza before the Bulldogs bounced back to grab a 35-29 lead at intermission.
FSU started quickly again in the second frame by opening the half on a 16-9 run to build a 13-point lead with 12:52 remaining. Michigan Tech cut the lead down to six points at 61-55 with 5:13 to go, but could get no closer the rest of the way as the Bulldogs won the first of two matchups between the two GLIAC North Division schools this season.
A year ago, Michigan Tech beat the Bulldogs three times, including ending FSU's season in the GLIAC Tournament Quarterfinals at Houghton after the two teams had shared the divisional regular-season championship along with Northwood.
Ferris State shot 48% from the floor in the game and connected on six-of-11 (54.5%) three's in addition to 20-of-26 (76.9%) free throws. The Huskies converted at a 43.4% clip and were eight-of-23 (34.8%) from downtown along with 12-of-16 (75%) at the line.
Michigan Tech's regining GLIAC Player of the Year Ali Haidar finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds in double-double effort while Austin Armga added 18 points and Ben Stelzer netted 16 points for the Huskies.
Despite Haidar's 10 rebounds, the Bulldogs held a slim 33-30 rebounding edge and came away with 11 offensive boards to seven for Michigan Tech. That helped lead to a 13-5 margin in second chance scoring for the Bulldogs.
Ferris State, which entered the game ranked 10th nationally in fewest turnovers, finished with only seven miscues in the game while MTU had 11 turnovers as FSU outscored the Huskies 12-10 in points off turnovers. FSU also came up with seven steals to four for Michigan Tech and netted 11 assists compared to 12 for the Huskies.
In addition to the three players who reached double-figure scoring, the Bulldogs also received nine points and seven rebounds from senior forward Daniel Sutherlin (Detroit/Renaissance) along with eight points by sophomore forward Trent Messer (Richland/Gull Lake). Freshman guard Jibreel Jackson (Chicago/Curie) had six points while redshirt freshman center Jared Stolicker (Middleville/Thornapple-Kellogg) contributed six rebounds and all four of the Bulldogs' blocked shots in the outing.
The victory was Ferris State's third in a row at home coming off the holiday break and the Bulldogs' 11th triumph in the last 20 matchups against Michigan Tech.
Ferris State will wrap up its four-game conference homestand against Northern Michigan on Saturday, Jan. 12, at Wink Arena. Tipoff for the Kids Day game is set for 1 p.m. (ET) with all youth in grades K-12 admitted free with a paid adult.
Saturday's contest is part of a tripleheader inside the Ewigleben Sports Complex with the Bulldog women's basketball contest against NMU to follow and the Ferris State hockey team hosting Ohio State at 7:05 p.m. (ET) inside the Ewigleben Ice Arena.
Tickets for all FSU contests can be purchased in advance via StarTickets.com or please call (231) 591-2888 for more information or visit FerrisStateBulldogs.com.
The game against Northern Michigan will be aired live by Sunny 97.3 FM and the Bulldog Sports Network starting with the Meijer Pregame Show at 12:30 p.m. (ET).