Postgame Audio File: Bill Sall & Jon
(MP3 Version) - (Windows Media Version)
Big Rapids, Mich. - The Ferris State University men's basketball team moved into solo possession of second place in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) North Division standings by beating Michigan Tech 67-63 on Saturday (Jan. 30) in league play at Jim Wink Arena.
The Bulldog victory, which was the squad's sixth-straight this season, combined with losses by Lake Superior State, Saginaw Valley State and Grand Valley State enabled FSU to move within a game of divisional leader GVSU with eight regular-season contests remaining on the schedule.
FSU improved to 12-7 overall and 10-4 in GLIAC play, but it didn't come easily as a pesky Michigan Tech team remained in striking distance most of the way.
The Huskies cut an 11-point FSU advantage with 14:57 remaining all the way down to two points (65-63) with 54 seconds left in the game. FSU ran the shot clock down and after a missed three-pointer by junior guard Matt DeHart with 22 seconds to play, the Bulldogs were able to pull out the win as junior forward/center Justin Keenan grabbed a key offensive rebound and sank two free throws to account for the final margin.
"That's a well-coached team that came to play today," said FSU head coach Bill Sall, of Michigan Tech. "Anytime we play Tech it is always a war and that second half was really a battle that's for sure."
The Bulldogs took a 41-35 halftime edge following Michigan Tech's early seven-point lead only four minutes into the contest. In the second half, though, the Bulldogs were limited to only 30.8% (8-26) shooting and an already limited FSU rotation saw Keenan saddled with foul trouble as he drew his fourth personal foul with nearly 10 minutes left in the game.
Keenan played a total of 31 minutes and finished with a game-high 26 points and seven rebounds. He was eight-of-14 from the floor and made 10-of-12 free throws while also coming up with three steals.
The preseason All-American was joined in double-figure scoring by sophomore guard Dontae Molden and the senior backcourt combination of Austin Randel and Jon Yeazel. Yeazel finished with 12 points, Randel had 11 points and Molden chipped in with 10 points.
FSU played without the services of senior guard Josh Young, who missed the game due to personal reasons. Freshman forward Daniel Sutherlin also missed his second-straight game due to illness as FSU utilized a seven-player rotation for much of the contest. Sophomore center Jim Boylan saw four minutes of action off the bench as the eighth player due to Keenan's foul trouble.
"We had some major obstacles in the second half and there weren't many guys to turn to, but we had some guys pick it up," Sall said.
The Huskies kept the game close behind the play of Ali Haidar on the inside along with both Don Fowler and Matt Gaedke on the perimeter. Haidar led the Huskies with 16 points while Fowler contributed 13 points and Gaedke netted 10 points.
MTU shot 48.8% (21-43) from the floor overall following a 50% (10-20) effort in the final half. The Huskies were six-of-15 (40%) beyond the arc and 15-of-21 (71.4%) at the free throw line.
Meanwhile, FSU made 21-of-52 (40.4%) field goal tries and was five-of-19 (26.3%) behind the three-point arc along with 20-of-24 (83.3%) at the stripe.
Ferris was outrebounded 31-29 by the Huskies, but came away with 11 offensive boards compared to only seven for MTU. The Bulldogs also forced 17 Michigan Tech turnovers and had only nine of their own in holding a 16-9 edge in points off miscues.
FSU totaled 15 assists, 10 steals and a single blocked shot with the Huskies managing 12 assists, four thefts and two swats.
Michigan Tech dropped to 4-15 overall and 3-11 in league play with the setback.
Ferris State continues its four-game league homestand by next hosting Hillsdale on Thursday, Feb. 4, in an 8 p.m. (EST) GLIAC tilt at Jim Wink Arena. The contest will represent FSU's annual Pink Wave Night in support of breast cancer awareness.
Bulldog Bites: The game featured nine lead changes ..... FSU received only two points off its bench as the Huskies held preseason All-GLIAC guard Darien Gay scoreless for the game ..... The victory was Ferris' eighth in the last 12 series' meetings ...... The two teams will square off against each other again in two weeks (Feb. 11) as the Bulldogs venture to the Upper Peninsula .... Saturday's contest was filled with youth activities as part of Kids Day and a crowd announced at 838 fans showed up for the contest.