Big Rapids, Mich. - A defensive stand on the game's final possession enabled the Ferris State University men's basketball squad to win its eighth consecutive home contest and beat rival Grand Valley State for the third consecutive time as the Bulldogs prevailed 59-58 on Saturday (Feb. 2) afternoon inside FSU's Jim Wink Arena.
The win was the third in a row overall in Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) play for the Bulldogs with all three decided by four points or less. Two of the three went to the game's final play to determine the outcome with the other one a double-overtime affair.
The Bulldogs trailed GVSU by a single point at halftime, but came back to take an eight-point lead with 14 minutes to play. However, the Lakers answered back in a game of runs and grabbed a one-point edge on a jumper by Ryan Majerle with 36 seconds to go.
Ferris State answered as senior forward Daniel Sutherlin converted a layup while driving into the heart of the Laker defense with 23 seconds remaining. After a pair of timeouts, the Lakers setup for the game's final play, but Breland Hogan's jumper in the lane rimmed out as time expired and FSU came out with the victory.
The finish was nearly similar to the last GVSU win in the series, which came on Hogan's buzzer beater two years ago (2/26/11) at Wink Arena. Saturday's victory was Ferris State's third in a row though versus the Lakers since that loss as FSU swept GVSU a year ago en route to winning a share of a second-straight GLIAC North Division crown.
With the win in the 99th series' matchup, the Bulldogs improved to 52-47 all-time against the Lakers and have now won six of the last 10 matchups overall, including four of the last five.
The victory also lifted the Bulldogs to 9-2 overall inside Wink Arena this season, including a perfect 8-0 mark in conference home games.
The Lakers managed to grab a slim halftime edge despite player without their leading scorer and leading rebounder in Ryan Sabin and Kristers Zeidaks, who were both out with injuries. Despite the lost production, Grand Valley State limited FSU to only 39.3% shooting with no made three's and no free throw attempts in taking a 23-22 edge at the break.
The second half was a different story, however, as the Bulldogs hit 13-of-19 (68.4%) field goals and made nine-of-10 (90%) free throws. FSU finished at 51.1% shooting for the day and was 90% at the stripe in addition to two-of-11 (18.2%) from beyond the arc.
After being held to only four points in the opening frame, Bulldog senior guard Kenny Brown heated up in the second half to finish with a team-high 16 points and five rebounds in the outing. He was joined in double figures by Sutherlin, who netted 14 points and six boards, along with sophomore guard Drew Lehman, who totaled 12 points, three rebounds and three assists. All 12 of Lehman's points came in the second half as the Bulldogs found a way to free up their two top shooters in Brown and Lehman over the final 20 minutes.
Ricardo Carbajal led GVSU with a game-high 19 points and made seven-of-nine field goals along with all five of his free throws. Tony Peters added 10 points, but those were the only two Laker players to reach double-figures.
GVSU shot 37.5% in the first half before coming back to connect on 54.5% of their second period field goals to finish at 45.7% for the game. The Lakers were four-of-11 (36.4%) behind the arc and 12-of-14 (85.7%) at the line.
Despite facing a bigger Laker lineup at times, the Bulldogs owned a 27-21 rebounding edge and grabbed six offensive caroms to four for GVSU, which led to an 8-4 margin in second chance production. Brown had two of the Bulldogs' offensive rebounds on the afternoon.
The Lakers owned a 20-12 edge in points off turnovers as they forced 12 Bulldog turnovers and had only 10 of their own. Both teams recorded six steals and FSU totaled four blocked shots to three for Grand Valley State.
Besides the three players who reached double-digit scoring, the Bulldogs also received eight points off the bench from freshman guard Jibreel Jackson along with a game-high six assists from sophomore guard Dietrich Lever. Redshirt freshman center Jared Stolicker contributed five rebounds, four points along with both a block and a steal.
Overall, the game featured 13 lead changes and the score was tied 10 times as the action went back and forth with neither team leading by more than eight points in the contest.
The matchup was the first of two meetings between the two West Michigan rival this campaign as FSU will visit GVSU on March 2 for the regular-season finale in Allendale.
With the victory, Ferris State improved to 11-8 overall and 10-5 in the GLIAC while moving within a game of Grand Valley State for second place in the divisional standings. GVSU fell to 14-5 overall and 11-4 in league play.
Ferris State, which is currently tied with Michigan Tech for third in the GLIAC North, will venture to Michigan's Upper Peninsuala to face the Huskies on Thursday, Feb. 7, at 5:30 p.m. (ET) inside MTU's Student Development Complex Gymnasium. The Bulldogs then head to Marquette to face Northern Michigan on Saturday, Feb. 9, at the Berry Events Center.