Big Rapids, Mich. - Two clutch free throws by junior forward Ashley Rando (Jackson/Northwest) with eight-tenths of a second remaining on the clock lifted the Ferris State University women's basketball team to a thrilling 54-53 win over Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) newcomer Malone in league play on Thursday (Jan. 3) night at FSU's Jim Wink Arena.
The win was the fifth in a row for the Bulldogs and sixth in the last seven outings to date as FSU improved to 7-3 overall and 6-1 in the GLIAC under first-year head coach Colleen Lamoreaux-Tate. The Bulldogs are presently tied with Michigan Tech atop the North Division standings.
Ferris State led 50-47 with 4:10 to play in the game before the visiting Pioneers scored two-straight buckets to grab a 51-50 advantage with 1:49 remaining. Bulldog junior guard Sarah DeShone (Elkhart, Ind./Jimtown) answered with a jumper to give FSU a 52-51 edge at the one-minute mark, but Malone responded with a layup from Audrey Myers to claim a one-point lead again with 27 seconds to go.
The Bulldogs had an opportunity to play for the final shot in the closing seconds. A jumper from DeShone was blocked out of bounds with 12 seconds to play. After the inbounds play, DeShone eventually ended up with the ball in the corner and a foul was called on Malone with 0.08 left on the clock.
Following a timeout, Rando knocked down the first free throw on the one-and-one opportunity to tie the game and then nailed the second free throw to give FSU the advantage. Malone's desperation inbounds pass down the floor was intercepted by the Bulldogs as FSU claimed the victory.
Rando paced Ferris State with a game-high 17 points in the game and added five rebounds and four steals in 33 minutes of action. Meanwhile, DeShone added 13 points, five rebounds, four assists and four steals while sophomore forward Kara Hess (Grand Rapids/Grandville) contributed 10 points and six boards.
Ferris State, which played without the services of its lone senior regular in guard Kylie Muntz (Dayton, Ohio), received only a single point off the bench as the Pioneers held a decisive 20-1 edge in bench production.
However, the Bulldogs forced 25 Malone turnovers and held a 16-12 margin in points off miscues to help offset a 40-29 advantage for the Pioneers on the boards. Malone also had 20 offensive caroms to only 14 for FSU, but the Bulldogs still held a 17-11 margin in second chance production.
Malone led by as many as six points with 9:15 to play in the first half before FSU came back to take a 34-33 halftime lead. Both teams were limited to only 20 points each in the second half of the game, which featured 13 lead changes and was tied 11 times.
The Pioneers had only a single-player reach double-digits in Deborah Simmers as she finished with 16 points. She was held to only two points, though, in the final 20 minutes.
Ferris State shot 40.4% for the night with Malone shooting a comparable 41.4% figure. FSU was four-of-10 (40%) behind the three-point line versus Malone's two-of-21 (9.5%) showing.
With Rando's final two makes at the free throw line, Ferris State made eight-of-11 (72.7%) tries from the charity stripe in comparison to Malone's three-of-four (75%) effort.
FSU netted eight assists, 12 steals and a single blocked shot with Malone recording seven assists, six steals and two blocks.
Malone dropped to 6-5 overall and 2-5 in league play with the loss in the first-ever matchup against the Bulldogs.
The contest marked FSU's first game since a league road win at Hillsdale prior to the holiday break on Dec. 17 and opened a four-game homestand for the Bulldogs in conference play.
Ferris State will host the league's other first-year school in Walsh on Saturday, Jan. 5, at Wink Arena. The game tips off at 3 p.m. (ET) and will be part of a tripleheader inside the Ewigleben Sports Complex. The men's game begins the afternoon at 1 p.m. (ET) with the Bulldog men's ice hockey team hosting Michigan State across the concourse at 5:05 p.m. (ET).
Saturday will be Kidz Day at Wink Arena for Bulldog Basketball and all youth in grades K-12 will be admitted free with a paid adult. A number of activities will be featured directed towards kids, including a bounce house, locker room tour, arts and crafts table and more.
FSU home basketball tickets can be purchased in advance thru the FSU Athletics Ticket Office by calling (231) 591-2888 or visit FerrisStateBulldogs.com for more information. They can also be bought online via StarTickets.com. Adult general admission tickets are $7 or the cost is $5 for FSU faculty/staff, seniors ages 65 and up or students age 3 thru 12th grade. FSU students are admitted free with a valid student ID card.