Hillsdale, Mich. - It was a tale of two halves Tuesday (Dec. 7) evening at Hillsdale's Jesse Philips Arena as the nationally-ranked and unbeaten Chargers rallied for a 83-76 triumph over the Ferris State men's basktball squad in a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) early season battle.
Hillsdale entered the contest ranked 17th nationally in the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Division II Top 25 Poll released earlier in the day while the Bulldogs have received votes much of the season and were ranked as high as 24th only two weeks ago.
Ferris State got off to a hot start in the opening half in building a 14-point (48-34) halftime edge. FSU sank 59.3% (16-27) of its first half field goal tries, including a nine-of-12 (75%) showing beyond the three-point line. FSU senior guard Darien Gay (Detroit/Henry Ford) hit six-of-seven shots in the initial half, including five-of-six treys in netting 17 points at intermission.
Ferris built its lead to as many as 18 points only one minute into the second half and still held a double-digit advantage at 71-60 with 6:44 remaining in the contest. However, the Chargers rallied in the second half and outscored FSU 49-28 over the final 20 minutes to notch the come from behind win. HC finally took the lead for good on a three-pointer by Nick Meinert with only 1:07 left in the contest.
Hillsdale improved to 9-0 overall this season and remained unbeaten at 3-0 in the GLIAC while the Bulldogs fell to 5-3 overall and 2-1 in league play.
Junior forward Brent Eaton led the Charger comeback with a game-high 31 points, including 21 in the final half. He made 11-of-16 field goal tries and five-of-eight three-pointers in the victory. Hillsdale also received 15 points from fellow junior forward Brad Guinane while point guard Tyler Gerber totaled nine points, six assists and three steals in the winning cause.
Their efforts helped offset a 27-point performance from Gay and a 23-point showing by FSU senior forward/center Justin Keenan (Grand Rapids/Ottawa Hills). He added nine rebounds and three assists for FSU, but those were the only two Bulldog players to crack double-figures.
Senior guard Matt DeHart (Greenville) totaled eight points and eight rebounds for FSU with sophomore guard Kenny Brown (Farmington Hills/Harrison) netting seven points off the bench.
Hillsdale shot 55.6% in the final half to finish at 50.9% (29-57) shooting for the game. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs were limited to only 31.8% (7-22) in the final stanza and shot 46.9% (23-49) overall. FSU was only two-of-11 (18.2%) beyond the three-point arc in the final half.
Ferris was also hampered by 14 turnovers compared to only nine for the Chargers. FSU tallied only six assists and had five steals along with three blocked shots comapred to HC's 15 assists, six thefts and one block.
The Bulldogs did own a slim 29-28 rebounding edge as both teams came up with eight offensive boards for the game.
With the victory, Hillsdale improved to 6-0 overall at home this campaign and each of their last five victories have came at Philips Arena. The win was also Hillsdale's sixth in the last seven series' matchups with FSU.
Ferris State will return home to host Northwood in GLIAC action on Saturday, Dec. 11, with the game slated for a 1 p.m. (ET) tipoff at FSU's Jim Wink Arena. Saturday marks the second of FSU's Saturday "Kidz Dayz" events sponsored by Green's Sporting Goods with special activities for all children taking place throughout the conference doubleheader.
Bulldog Bites: Hillsdale posted an 18-3 advantage in scoring off turnovers .... Both teams took the lead on three occassions in the game ...... Despite Justin Keenan's 23 points, the Chargers managed to outscore the Bulldogs 24-20 in the paint ...... Keenan made 13-of-15 free throws for the Bulldogs ....... FSU assistant men's basketball coach Andy Bronkema did not make the trip due to the birth of his second daughter, Cambria Jae, earlier in the afternoon ........ Junior forward Jerrell Sanders (Grand Rapids/Creston) did not play due to an injury suffered in Saturday's (Dec. 4) league home win over Ohio Dominican ..... Keenan, Gay and DeHart all played 33 minutes or more ...... The game marked the return of FSU head coach Bill Sall and volunteer assistant coach Ed Douma to Hillsdale. Douma served as the Chargers' head coach for nine years until 2007 with Sall serving as his assistant for HC prior to his FSU arrival in 2002.