Big Rapids, Mich. - The Ferris State University men's basketball squad held on in its Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) opener to give first-year head coach Andy Bronkema his first official regular-season victory at the Bulldog helm as FSU topped Lake Erie 73-70 at home on Thursday (Dec. 5) night inside Jim Wink Arena.
The Bulldogs trailed by six points at halftime with an injury-depleted lineup, but battled back to outscore the Storm 42-33 over the final 20 minutes to notch the win in their regular-season home debut.
Lake Erie led by a single point with 4:37 to play, but FSu responded by scoring five-straight points and eventually took a six-point margin with 30 seconds left in the contest on a big three-pointer from sophomore Matt Poches. Lake Erie trimmed the margin to a single point on a jumper with less than five seconds to play before FSU junior Drew Lehman sealed the victory with two free throws in the closing second.
Poches paced the Bulldogs with a team-high 21 points, which included a 10-of-13 showing at the free throw line. He also added seven rebounds and three assists in his first home game at Wink Arena.
In addition to the strong output from Poches, FSU received 16 points from Lehman along with a double-double effort from sophomore center Jared Stolicker, who netted 15 points and 11 rebounds to go with a pair of blocked shots. Junior guard Dietrich Lever added nine points and a team-best five assists while sophomore Milton Cribbs contributed eight points and five boards.
Ferris State also received strong minutes off the bench from junior Matt Stoll and sophomore Dan Chilcote, who saw additional time with the loss of three Bulldog players who did not suit up in Jibreel Jackson, Raymoan McAfee and James Chappell. Finally, sophomore Josh Fleming contributed eight rebounds to go with two assists and two steals for FSU.
The Bulldogs shot 42.6% for the night, which included only a three-of-17 (17.6%) effort from beyond the three-point line. Behind Poches' showing at the stripe, FSU finished 18-of-31 (58.1%) at the charity stripe.
FSU, which immproved to 1-3 on the year after three tough road contests against highly-regarded opponents to open the year, owned a 46-38 rebounding margin and came away with 13 offensive boards to only nine for the Storm. That led to a 14-10 effort in second chance production.
Lake Erie finished shooting 37.7% for the game after being limited to only 32% shooting in the second half. The Storm connected on seven-of-20 treys (35%) and were 11-of-13 (84.6%) at the line.
The Storm surged ahead in the opening half behind the play of guard Riley Thomas, who totaled 25 points in the first frame and finished with a game-high 29 on the night. He was held to only four points in the second half thanks to improved defensive play on the FSU side along with an injury sustained while diving over the scorer's table for a loose ball. He quickly returned to the floor, however, and played 36 minutes overall.
Along with Thomas, Lake Erie received 14 points and 12 boards in a double-double showing by Garrick Sims. Michael Morris contributed nine points and seven rebounds while Roy Alexander added eight points and six boards.
Both teams netted 13 assists on the night with FSU holding a slim 8-7 margin in steals. The Bulldogs had 12 turnovers while forcing 11 on the Lake Erie side. The miscues helped LEC hold a 16-12 edge in points off turnovers. Both teams scored 34 points in the paint.
Overall, the contest featured eight league changes and was tied three times as FSU improved to 4-0 all-time against Lake Erie. The visit to Wink Arena was only Lake Erie's second-ever trip to Big Rapids.
Ferris State wraps up its two-game homestand by hosting Ashland on Saturday (Dec. 7) at Wink Arena. The contest will follow the women's game with a scheduled start time of 3 p.m. (ET).