Allendale, Mich. - The Ferris State University women's basketball squad closed out the regular-season with a hard-fought 46-44 win over archrival Grand Valley State on Saturday (Feb. 25) night at the GVSU Fieldhouse Arena in Allendale.
The Bulldogs trailed by two points in a low-scoring first half, but outscored the Lakers 32-28 over the final 20 minutes to notch the win.
With the victory, Ferris State finished regular-season play with a 20-5 overall mark to go with a 17-2 league ledger.
FSU will be the number two seed for the GLIAC Tournament and host seventh-seeded Findlay on Wednesday, Feb. 29, at 7 p.m. (ET) inside Wink Arena.
In Saturday's contest, sophomore forward Nikki Arner (Ludington) paced FSU with a game-high 17 points in the contest while senior guard Tricia Principe (Kalamazoo/Mattawan) added nine points.
Freshman forward Christina Branch (Grand Rapids/West Michigan Lutheran) totaled 10 rebounds to lead the Bulldogs on the glass. Sophomore guard Sarah DeShone (Elkhart, Ind./Jimtown) added eight points and four assists in the winning effort as Ferris State notched its second victory over the Lakers this season.
Ferris State held Grand Valley State without a field goal in the final five minutes of the game and the Lakers did not score over the last four minutes. FSU still trailed 44-42 before a steal and layup by Arner tied it up with 34 seconds left to play. She was fouled on the play and the Bulldogs managed to come up with the offensive rebound on the missed free throw, which led to a Laker foul and two made free throws from Principe to give the Bulldogs the advanteage.
Principe was fouled again with 11 seconds left, but missed two free throws to give GVSU one final chance. However, the Lakers' Briauna Taylor missed a short jumper in the closing seconds as FSU preserved the win.
Both teams struggled shooting the basketball as Ferris State shot only 32.7% for the game, but held GVSU to only 24% shooting for the contest. The Bulldogs made only six-of-21 (28.6%) field goals in the initial half before shooting 35.7% (10-28) over the final 20 minutes.
On the opposite side, the Lakers hit only four-of-25 (16%) field goal tries in the initial frame as they held only a 16-14 edge at halftime.
Ferris State made three-of-20 (15%) three's and 11-of-24 (45.8%) free throws as compared to Grand Valley State's two-of-18 (11.1%) showing beyond the arc and 18-of-24 (75%) effort at the stripe.
The Bulldogs held a slim 44-42 rebounding edge and grabbed 15 offensive boards to only 14 for Grand Valley State. FSU posted 10 assists, five steals and five blocked shots with freshman forward Hannah Hoffman (Okemos) accounting for four of the blocks.
Meanwhile, Grand Valley State totaled 10 assists, four steals and no blocks. The Lakers had only 10 turnovers to 12 for FSU, but the Bulldogs still managed to hold a 9-6 edge in points off miscues.
The Lakers' bench outscored Ferris State's reserves by a 23-6 count although Ferris held a 6-2 margin in fast break production and a 22-18 edge in points scored inside the paint.
Overall, the lead changes hands five times and the score was tied three times. GVSU closed out the season with a 10-16 overall mark and a 7-12 GLIAC record.
The Lakers were paced by Emily England with 12 points and six boards. Senior Kara Crawford, who was the Lakers' lone senior honored in her final home contest, totaled nine points and five rebounds in the setback.
Tickets for Wednesday's GLIAC Tournament matchup are slated to go on sale Tuesday and be $8 for adults or $3 for all students. No passes will be accepted per GLIAC Tournament regulations.
Ferris State will be the number two overall seed for the tournament and could potentially host the semifinals/finals on March 3-4 should top-seeded Ashland get upset in the opening round and the Bulldogs are able to defeat Findlay.