Big Rapids, Mich. - The winning streak continues for the Ferris State University men's basketball team at home as the Bulldogs rolled up their 10th-straight Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) triumph inside Jim Wink Arena with a 63-54 win over Lake Superior State on Saturday (Feb. 16) afternoon in Big Rapids.
The Bulldogs fought back from a nine-point deficit with 18 minutes remaining to beat the Lakers and remain within a game of first place in the GLIAC North Division standings. FSU improved to 14-9 overall and 13-6 in conference play with its third-straight win overall.
Ferris State led by as many as six points in the first half before the Lakers came back to grab a 31-28 lead at the break. However, in the second half, after LSSU increased its edge to nine only two minutes into the frame, the Bulldogs responded and outscored the Lakers 35-23 over the final 20 minutes to notch the win.
Freshman forward Josh Fleming had a career day to help fuel the Bulldog charge. The scored a personal career-high 20 points on eight-of-nine shooting and stepped out beyond the arc to bury all four of his three-point tries. He added five rebounds and three assists while seeing 30 minutes of action.
Ferris State also received yet another solid performance from sophomore point guard Dietrich Lever, who totaled 10 points, five assists, four rebounds and two steals in 34 minutes. Senior guard Kenny Brown and freshman guard Jibreel Jackson both chipped in with nine points each.
Their efforts helped offset a good interior presence from the Lake Superior State combination of Cameron Metz and Derek Kinney. Metz scored 14 points and had nine rebounds while Kinney notched a double-double with both 14 points and a game-high 14 rebounds in the setback.
The Bulldogs limited LSSU to only 36.8% shooting, including a 29.6% showing in the final half. They also forced 15 turnovers and outscored the Lakers 12-9 in points off miscues.
Behind the play of rookies Fleming and Jackson, the Bulldogs also held a decisive 33-5 edge in bench production for the day.
Ferris State shot 43.1% offensively and connected on 50% of its field goal attempts in the second half. FSU also made 11-of-21 (52.4%) three's and was two-of-four (50%) at the line. LSSU managed to make only five-of-18 (27.8%) three's and seven-of-13 (53.8%) free throws.
The Lakers owned a 41-30 rebounding margin and grabbed 13 offensive boards to only seven for the Bulldogs, but still held only a slim 11-9 advantage in second chance scoring. FSU posted seven steals to five for the Lakers as Brown came away with three thefts.
At the offensive end, the Bulldogs continued their impressive ball-handling as they turned the ball over only nine times. Ferris State came into the week ranked second in the country in fewest turnovers at 10 per game. For the second game in a row, FSU also distributed the ball well as the Bulldogs totaled 18 assists with five each from Brown and Lever.
Overall, the game featured five lead changes and the score was tied three times. It was FSU's fifth win over the Lakers in the last six matchups and the Bulldogs also avenged an earlier setback to LSSU in Sault Ste. Marie back in January. Ferris State has now won 14 of the last 22 meetings in the series.
FSU remained unbeaten in league home contests with a perfect 10-0 mark this season and the Bulldogs also improved to 11-2 overall at home this year.
With the win, combined with losses by both Michigan Tech and Grand Valley State, FSU surged into a second-place tie in the GLIAC North with both schools. All three own identical 13-6 marks in the GLIAC and trail divisional leader Wayne State by a game and a half as the Warriors are presently 14-4 overall in the conference.
Ferris State will have an opportunity to continue to battle for the lead in the GLIAC North as the Bulldogs visit Wayne State on Thursday, Feb. 21, for a 6 p.m. (ET) league tilt at the Matthaei Complex in Detroit. The game will air live on Sunny 97.3 FM and the Bulldog Sports Network online at FerrisStateBulldogs.com starting with the Meijer Pregame Show at 5:30 p.m.
Then, on Saturday, Feb. 23, the Bulldogs host Saginaw Valley State in their regular-season home finale at Wink Arena with tipoff set for 1 p.m. (ET). FSU will honor its senior duo of Brown and injured forward Daniel Sutherlin as part of "Senior Day".