Ferris State's Jason Holder guards NMU's Kyle Greene in Saturday's Bulldog victory (Photo/Sandy Gholston)
The Ferris State University men’s basketball squad snapped a three-game skid by holding on for a 73-63 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) home triumph over Northern Michigan on Saturday (Feb. 14) afternoon inside FSU’s Jim Wink Arena at Big Rapids, Mich.
The Bulldogs sprinted out to a 37-24 halftime edge en route to the Valentine’s Day victory before a crowd of 1,059 fans.
FSU rebounded from Thursday’s (Feb. 12) league home setback to Michigan Tech by shooting 47% (24-51) from the floor versus the Wildcats and holding NMU to a 39.7% (23-58) shooting figure for the day.
Ferris also received another stellar performance from the league’s leading scorer in sophomore forward/center Justin Keenan, who finished with a game-high 28 points on 10-of-18 shooting from the floor and an eight-of-eight showing at the free throw stripe. Keenan added a team-high eight rebounds for the Bulldogs.
Besides Keenan, FSU also had two other players score in double-figures as both junior guard Josh Young and sophomore guard Darien Gay tallied 11 points apiece. Young added five assists and Gay totaled three to go with freshman guard Dontae Molden’s team-high six assists as FSU finished with 18 helpers in the game.
The Bulldogs nailed 19-of-21 (90.5%) free throws and connected on six-of-18 (33.3%) three-pointers. In addition, Ferris also maintained a 36-28 advantage on the glass as both teams grabbed 10 offensive boards. Defensively, the Bulldogs also blocked seven shots in the game with senior forward Jason Holder rejecting four shots and sophomore forward Lou Williams blocking two attempts.
FSU increased its 13-point halftime lead to 20 points with 13:35 remaining after Gay hit two free throws following a technical foul charged to the NMU bench. However, the Wildcats rallied back and cut the lead down to nine points (57-48) with 8:51 to play. Ferris quickly jumped the lead back to 17 points in a three-minute span before the Wildcats climbed back to as close as eight points in the closing seconds.
Raymont McElroy played all 40 minutes for Northern Michigan and finished with a team-high 22 points to go with seven assists. Chris Warner played 39 minutes for the Wildcats and finished with a double-double as he had 13 points and 10 boards. Marc Renelique chipped in with 14 points, all of which came in the second half.
The Wildcats struggled from the three-point arc, hitting only eight-of-27 (29.6%) attempts. They were nine-of-12 (75%) at the free throw line and had 11 assists with six steals. Ferris totaled eight steals and outscored NMU 30-20 in the paint behind the play of Keenan.
NMU did force 15 Bulldog turnovers, which led to a 20-10 edge in points off turnovers. However, FSU’s 10 offensive boards helped the Bulldogs post a 12-2 margin in second chance scoring.
Ferris, which trailed only once in the game and led for the final 35 minutes, improved to 12-11 overall and 10-8 in the GLIAC with the win. NMU dropped to 11-12 overall and 6-12 in conference play.
The Bulldog victory combined with a Hillsdale loss enabled the Bulldogs to climb back into a fourth-place tie with the Chargers in the GLIAC standings . Both teams have four games left in conference play. The top four teams at the end of the regular-season will earn a quarterfinal-round home game in the GLIAC Postseason Tournament.
Ferris State will play its final two regular-season home contests at Wink Arena next
week as the Bulldogs host Saginaw Valley State on Thursday, Feb. 19, with the league
tipoff and “Pink Wave Night” encounter set for 8 p.m. (EST). FSU then takes on Lake
Superior State in its annual “Senior Day” contest on Saturday, Feb. 21, starting at
3 p.m. (EST) in Big Rapids.