FSU Stays Unbeaten With Key Regional Victory

FSU Stays Unbeaten With Key Regional Victory

Click To Watch Postgame Press Conference (Video)
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Featuring: Justin Keenan, Darien Gay, Coach Bill Sall
Click To Watch Video Highlights (Courtesy 9 &10 Sports)

Big Rapids, Mich. - The Ferris State University men's basketball squad picked up a key regional win and remained unbeaten with a 66-55 home win over St. Joseph's (Ind.) on Monday (Nov. 15) evening inside FSU's Jim Wink Arena.

The Bulldogs jumped out to an 11-point halftime advantage and the two teams battled to an even second half.  FSU led the rest of the contest after the Pumas scored the first basket of the game.

The win was only FSU's third-ever against St. Joseph's as the Pumas entered the outing holding an 11-2 all-time series' edge.  

SJC was ranked 10th in the country in both The Sporting News and Division II Bulletin Preseason National Polls after winning the NCAA-II Midwest Regional crown and advancing to the Elite Eight a season ago.

"We knew coming in we had to stop their transition and we did a great job of that," said FSU head coach Bill Sall.  "Our defense I thought was outstanding."

Ferris State senior forward/center Justin Keenan showed why he was tabbed as the national preseason player of the year in Division II basketball with an impressive 25-point and 13 rebound performance.  He finished nine-of-13 from the floor and was seven-of-12 at the charity stripe.

Keenan was joined in double-digits by senior guard Darien Gay with 12 points and five assists.  Both sophomores Kenny Brown and Daniel Sutherlin added nine points while junior guard Dontae Molden dished out eight assists.

Ferris limited the Pumas to only 29.4% (10-34) shooting in the first half of play and SJC made only 37.7% (23-61) shots on the night.  St. Joseph's was three-of-18 (16.7%) beyond the three-point line and six-of-10 (60%) at the free throw line.

Meanwhile, the Bulldogs shot 45.3% (24-53) for the game, including a 55.2% (16-29) effort in the initial half.  Ferris sank five-of-16 (31.3%) three-pointers and hit 13-of-19 (68.4%) free throws.

"They made an effort to double and triple Keenan, but we got some really good looks," Sall said.  " You're going to have games where you don't shoot well like we did in the second half, but we continued to compete and get the 50-50 and loose balls. 

"We crashed the glass hard and got big offensive rebounds. You still have to persevere and get it done when shots aren't falling and we did that today," he added.

The Bulldogs posted a 42-30 rebounding advantage and came up with 13 offensive caroms compared to only 10 for the Pumas.

Ferris scored the first two points of the second half to take a 13-point lead before SJC trimmed the advantage to only four points with 12:40 left in the game.  However, Brown hit back-to-back treys to push the FSU lead back to 10 points.

St. Joseph's again chipped into the lead and trailed by only three with 8:31 to go, but FSU then went on an 11-0 run to put the game away.  The stretch included six points from Keenan.

Behind the play of Keenan, FSU held a 30-26 edge in points scored inside the paint along with a 16-11 margin in second chance scoring as Keenan pulled down five offensive boards.

The Pumas did manage to outscore Ferris 15-8 in points off turnovers as the Bulldogs had 13 miscues in the game with SJC turning it over only eight times.  That helped lead to 12 steals for St. Joseph's and only five for the Bulldogs.

However, Ferris distributed the ball well as evidenced by 18 assists, including eight from Molden and five from Gay.  

The Pumas were led by Dayvon Sloan's team-high 17 points.  Michael Horton added 13 points in the losing effort.

With the win, the Bulldogs improved to 2-0 overall this season and conclude their season-opening three game homestand versus Lewis (Ill.) on Saturday, Nov. 20, at 3 p.m. (ET) inside Wink Arena.  Monday's contest represented the season opener for St. Joseph's.

Bulldog Bites: The Bulldogs' largest lead of the night was 15 points with 3:07 remaining in the contest ..... FSU played eight in the game and seven scored ...... Both team's benches netted 23 points ....... The victory avenged a 98-82 road setback to St. Joseph's last year (11/21/09) in Rensselaer, Ind. ...... SJC was tabbed to finish first in the Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC) North Division Preseason Poll ....... Both Brown and senior guard Matt DeHart had two three-pointers for the Bulldogs.