Big Rapids, Mich. - Ferris State University senior guard Sarah DeShone put together yet another stellar performance and nearly led the Bulldogs to victory in her final collegiate contest, but in the end Saginaw Valley State pulled out a hard-fought 82-71 overtime win on Saturday (March 1) at FSU's Jim Wink Arena.
The squad's lone senior and a two-time All-American who wrapped up her career ranked among FSU's all-time leaders in nearly every statistical category, DeShone finished with 24 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists and three steals in 42 minutes of action during FSU's season finale.
However, it was not quite enough as the Cardinals battled back from a 17-point first half deficit to claim a spot in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) Tournament by outscoring FSU 16-5 in the extra session. SVSU needed a win over the Bulldogs to reach postseason play and the Cardinals' victory knocked Grand Valley State out of the tournament picture.
After the Bulldogs' big early start, SVSU managed to trim the game down to five points at halftime as FSU led 32-27 at the break. The Cardinals then trimmed the margin down to a single point with 12:22 to play, but could never gain the lead until finally pulling in front on a layup from senior Kristen Green with 6:30 remaining.
The two teams fought back and fourth down the stretch with the Bulldogs trying to send DeShone out with a win and the Cardinals hoping to keep their season alive. The lead changed hands five times after Saginaw Valley State pulled in front over the last six minutes of regulation.
With the score tied near the end, Saginaw Valley State's Danielle Carriere missed a three-point try with just over 30 seconds to play in the second half. DeShone then drew a foul against the Cardinals and converted both free throws with 10 seconds left to give FSU a 66-64 edge, but SVSU's Greene drove coast to coast and scored with only four seconds left and the Bulldogs could not convert at the buzzer as the two teams headed to the extra session.
In overtime, the Cardinals scored the first six points as FSU missed its first three tries in the overtime stanza and SVSU then was able to hit eight free throws in the last 52 seconds to secure the win and a berth in the conference tournament.
Like DeShone, Saginaw Valley State's Greene also put together an impressive performance to keep her senior campaign alive. She finished with a game-high 26 points and added eight rebounds and five assists in 43 minutes of work.
Along with DeShone, Ferris State received 13 points and 10 rebounds from sophomore center Christina Branch in a double-double effort. Junior forward Kara Hess contributed 12 points in the setback with sophomore Katie Mavis netting eight points and four assists.
Greene was joined in double-digits on the Saginaw Valley State side by fellow senior Kayla Womack with 16 points. She added four assists, three steals and three boards while Briana Graham contributed 12 points and seven rebounds off the bench as SVSU avenged a 83-75 home loss to Ferris State only last Saturday (Feb. 22) in University Center.
The Bulldogs shot 41.4% from the floor for the day and hit three-of-six (50%) three's along with 20-of-28 (71.4%) free throws despite playing without their second-leading scorer in sophomore guard Dena Droste due to injury. The Cardinals hit 44.6% of their field goals and sank five-of-18 (27.8%) three's along with 19-of-24 (79.2%) free throws.
However, despite the Bulldogs' figures from the floor and at the stripe, FSU turned the ball over 18 times and the Cardinals held a decisive 28-13 margin in points off turnovers as they lost the ball only 10 times in the game. They came up with 10 steals to six for Ferris State.
The Bulldogs did hold a 41-35 rebounding edge and grabbed six offensive caroms to four for the visitors. Along with DeShone and Branch in double-figures, the Bulldogs also received eight rebounds from sophomore forward April Watson. Both teams scored seven second chance points and FSU tallied six blocked shots to two for the Cardinals.
Overall, the game featured seven lead changes and was tied five times. Both teams received 23 points off the bench in the back-and-forth battle.
With the win, Saginaw Valley State improved to 14-11 overall and finished with a 12-10 mark in league regular-season action while the Bulldogs closed the 2013-14 campaign with a 10-14 overall record and a 10-12 conference slate.
While Ferris State loses one of the most decorated players in school history in DeShone, the rest of the entire Bulldog squad, including the other nine players who saw action in Saturday's season finale are eligible to return next season. FSU had won four games in a row during the stretch run of the season prior to Saturday's setback.