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Big Rapids, Mich. - The Ferris State University men's basketball squad took its first step in a quest for a conference title with a decisive 93-63 win over Tiffin in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) opener for both teams on Thursday (Dec. 2) evening at FSU's Jim Wink Arena.
The Bulldogs bolted out to a seven-point lead only five minutes into the contest and held a 15-point halftime advantage with a 47-32 score. FSU pushed the edge to as many as 32 points with 2:10 to play en route to the 30-point triumph.
With the victory, the Bulldogs improved to 4-2 overall this campaign and snapped a two-game losing streak. Ferris also remained unbeaten inside the confines of Wink Arena with its fourth home victory of the season.
FSU took control early by forcing 13 Dragon turnovers in the opening stanza and shooting 55.9% (19-34) in the initial half. Ferris finished with a 50.7% (36-71) shooting figure and sank nine-of-22 (40.9%) three-pointers along with a 12-of-18 (66.7%) showing at the free throw stripe.
Defensively, the Bulldogs also held Tiffin to only a 36.9% (24-65) shooting effort from the floor. The Dragons made only six-of-27 (22.2%) long range tries, but did hit nine-of-11 (81.8%) free throws.
Senior forward/center Justin Keenan (Grand Rapids/Ottawa Hills) fueled the Bulldogs early by scoring 17 of his game-high 24 points in the first half. He added nine rebounds in 29 minutes of play for FSU. Additionally, Keenan scored his 1,700th career point in the game and is now only 13 shy of tying former Bulldog standout Jarvis Walker (1985-89) for sixth place on the school's career scoring chart.
Senior guard Darien Gay (Detroit/Henry Ford) added 18 points on seven-of-11 shooting and made four three-pointers. Junior guard Dontae Molden (Detroit/Pershing) also had an impressive all-around performance with 11 points, four assists and three steals in 24 minutes.
FSU senior forward Matt DeHart (Greenville) contributed eight points, six rebounds, two assists and two steals with sophomore forward Daniel Sutherlin (Detroit/Renaissance) netting nine points and sophomore guard Brandyn Mungo (Westland/Detroit Renaissance) scoring seven points. Sophomore guard Kenny Brown (Farmington Hills/Harrison) had a team-high five assists to go with his five points while freshman guard DeMarco Sanders (Flint/Powers) chipped in with both five points and five boards.
Ferris was able to rotate several players in and out of the contest as 10 different players all saw at least 11 minutes of playing time. Thirteen Bulldog players participated in the contest.
The Bulldogs forced 18 Tiffin turnovers for the game, which helped lead to a commanding 24-4 edge in points scored off turnovers as Ferris had only 11 miscues for the night. FSU's defensive pressure helped create 13 steals and led to a 25-10 advantage in fast break scoring production.
On the boards, the Bulldogs posted a slim 43-37 margin and had 16 offensive boards compared to 15 for the Dragons.
Tiffin had three players reach double figure scoring in the league opener with Joe Graessle totaling a contest-best 17 points. Brian Scott had 11 points, seven rebounds and three assists with Rafael Cuellar registering 10 points and a team-high eight boards.
The win was Ferris' sixth all-time victory over Tiffin in seven series' meetings dating back to 2007. It was also the sixth-straight win for the Bulldogs against the Dragons and represented the Bulldogs' fifth triumph it their last six league openers.
Tiffin fell to 2-3 overall this year with the loss.
The Bulldogs will try to win their fifth-straight home contest when they host league newcomer Ohio Dominican in their next outing on Saturday (Dec. 4) with tipoff set for 1 p.m. (ET) at Wink Arena.
Bulldog Bites: The Bulldogs compiled 22 assists to only 13 for Tiffin and seven FSU players dished out two assists or more apiece in the game ...... The two teams combined for 70 points in the paint with FSU holding a 40-30 edge ..... The contest featured three lead changes ....... Thursday's doubleheader was the first under the league's new scheduling policy this year featuring the men playing the opening game ...... FSU received 28 points from its bench with the Dragons earning 21 from their reserves ..... Tiffin made only two-of-12 three's in the final 20 minutes.