Big Rapids, Mich. - The Ferris State University men's basketball squad will head into the holiday break and the New Year riding a five-game winning streak as the Bulldogs stormed past Cornerstone by a 96-75 score on Saturday (Dec. 21) afternoon inside FSU's Jim Wink Arena.
The Bulldogs shot 52.3% for the day and placed five individuals in double-figure scoring as first-year head coach Andy Bronkema directed FSU to a decisive win over his collegiate alma mater and mentor in longtime Cornerstone head coach Kim Elders.
The victory was the fifth-straight for Ferris State, which improved to 5-3 overall this campaign with the win over the Golden Eagles, who fell to 11-3 on the year. FSU is also off to its best start since 2005 in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) and are one of only two teams still unbeaten (4-0) in league action along with Grand Valley State.
Ferris State started quickly as the Bulldogs scored the first eight points of the afternoon. However, the Golden Eagles answered with a 17-5 run as Cornerstone grabbed a 17-13 lead nearly midway thru the opening half in the first matchup between the two teams since 2008.
Ferris State regained the advantage in the final eight minutes of the initial stanza and pushed the edge to 12 points with less than two minutes remaining in the half before eventually settling for a 47-37 lead at the break.
Cornerstone cut FSU's halftime lead to five points with 14:37 to go at 57-52, but Ferris State responded by going on a 7-2 run to push the margin right back to 10 with 11 minutes left. FSU eventually pushed the margin to as many as 24 points with two minutes remaining after a strong finish. The Bulldogs closed the contest on a 30-17 run over the final 10 minutes of the game.
With the win, Ferris State improved to 4-1 all-time against the Golden Eagles in regular-season action and Bronkema scored his first win over his former collegiate head coach. He was a two-time NAIA All-American as a collegiate standout under Elders with the Golden Eagles.
Junior guard Drew Lehman led the Bulldogs with a game-high 21 points, which included an 11-of-11 showing at the free throw line. He was joined in double-digits by sophomore center Jared Stolicker with 17 points, including 13 in the opening half.
The Bulldogs also received 13 points from junior forward Matt Poches along with 11 by junior guard Dietrich Lever and 10 from sophomore forward Dan Chilcote off the bench. Sophomore forward Josh Fleming added nine points in the victory.
Ferris State connected on 18-of-31 (58.1%) shots in the first half and closed the game by making 16-of-34 (47.1%) in the second frame to finish at 52.3% (34-65) for the day. The Bulldogs also hit 10-of-20 (50%) three-pointers with three from Fleming in addition to two each by Lehman and Chilcote. FSU was 18-of-24 (75%) at the charity stripe behind Lehman's individual performance.
Defensively, the Bulldogs forced 12 turnovers on the Cornerstone side and limited CU to only a five-of-17 (29.4%) shooting figure from behind the arc. The Golden Eagles were 26-of-58 (44.8%) from the floor and 18-of-21 (85.7%) at the line.
Wes Hudson led Cornerstone with a team-best 18 points while Jake Plite scored 14 points and Ben Lanning added nine points in the setback.
FSU posted a 39-30 rebounding margin and came up with 14 offensive boards to only nine caroms at the offensive end for Cornerstone. The Bulldogs owned a 18-13 edge in second chance production. Fleming grabbed a game-high eight boards for FSU with senior forward Raymoan McAfee adding six to go with his six points on the floor. Stolicker had five rebounds.
Ferris State's balanced offensive effort was a direct result of its ability to distribute the ball as the Bulldogs dished out 24 assists. Both Lever and Lehman had five helpers each while sophomore wing Milton Cribbs and Poches each handed out four assists. The Golden Eagles netted 13 assists with a team-high three from Lanning.
The Bulldogs also managed to hold onto the ball most of the day as they finished with only nine turnovers, including just two in the final 20 minutes of action. They forced 12 on the defensive end and came up with eight steals with a game-best four from Poches along with three by Lever. That helped lead to a slim 16-15 advantage in points off turnovers for Ferris State.
Saturday's contest represented the Bulldogs' final non-league outing of the season as the Bulldogs' remaining 18 contests this year will all be GLIAC matchups.
After the holiday break, Ferris State returns to action at home as FSU resumes GLIAC play versus Findlay on Thursday, Jan. 2, at Jim Wink Arena. Tipoff is set for approximately 8 p.m. (ET) following the women's contest in Big Rapids. FSU then hosts Hillsdale on Saturday, Jan. 4, in afternoon action at 3 p.m. (ET).
Tickets for all Ferris State home basketball contests can be purchased in advance thru the FSU Athletics Ticket Office inside the Ewigleben Sports Complex, online at StarTickets.com or by calling (800) 585-3737. For more information, please call (231) 591-2888 or visit FerrisStateBulldogs.com.