Big Rapids, Mich. - The Ferris State University men's basketball squad battled nationally 23rd-ranked and Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) leader Lake Superior State to the wire, but fell short 75-70 in league play on Saturday (Jan. 25) afternoon inside FSU's Jim Wink Arena.
The Bulldogs fought tooth-and-nail with the Lakers for nearly the entire 40 minutes of action before the Lakers surged ahead down the stretch to pull out the triumph. They moved to 16-3 overall and 9-3 in league play with the win while holding onto a share of first place in the GLIAC North.
The contest featured 10 lead changes and was tied 12 times overall. FSU led by three points with 11:51 to play in the opening half, however the Lakers battled back to grab a 33-31 edge at the break.
In the second half, the Lakers pushed the margin to 10 points with 14:31 to play, but the Bulldogs responded by cutting the deficit to only three points with 10:40 remaining. However, Ferris State could get no closer in dropping to 6-10 overall and 5-6 in the GLIAC.
Senior forward Cameron Metz proved to be a thorn in FSU's side most of the afternoon as he finished with a game-high 25 points and 11 rebounds in a double-double showing. Teammate Jacob Blake added 11 points and 12 boards in a double-double of his own as the Lakers asserted control on the interior against a Bulldog lineup playing without sophomore starting forward Josh Fleming due to injury for the fourth-straight game.
While the combination of Metz and Blake were productive inside for LSSU, the Bulldogs also received a solid interior contribution from sophomore center Jared Stolicker, who scored a team-high tying 14 points with a squad-best nine rebounds and five blocked shots in 31 minutes of action. Senior forward Raymoan McAfee battled foul trouble and played only eight minutes with five points on the day.
Ferris State managed to get Metz and reserve center Lucas Holt in foul trouble as both also fouled out of the game in the second half. Additionally, FSU limited LSSU's leading scorer in senior guard Derek Billing to only nine points on two-of-eight shooting. However, in their absence, point guard Tony Harris stepped up and scored 12 points with five assists while Alex Williams added seven points and four boards.
Junior guard Drew Lehman also reached double-digits for Ferris State with 14 points while junior guard Dietrich Lever totaled 13 points. The combination of sophomore guard Jibreel Jackson and junior guard Matt Poches each netted eight points apiece with sophomore forward Milton Cribbs scoring six points and grabbing seven rebounds.
Ferris State managed to shoot only 34.5% for the game and hit only five-of-20 (25%) three's. The Bulldogs did convert 27-of-41 (65.9%) free throws, but were only 11-of-23 (47.8%) in the second half.
Meanwhile, Lake Superior State connected on 41.3% of its field goals and made two-of-15 (13.3%) three's in addition to 21-of-30 (70%) tries from the free throw stripe.
The Lakers dominated the glass with a 50-37 margin and totaled 16 offensive caroms to only 10 for the Bulldogs, which helped lead to a 13-8 edge in second chance scoring. LSSU also outscored the Bulldogs 46-22 inside the paint.
Despite scoring only nine points, Billing dished out a squad-high six assists for Lake Superior State and also had three steals as LSSU totaled 18 helpers and six thefts for the game. Ferris State tallied 13 assists, six steals and six blocks for the afternoon.
Jackson paced FSU with a squad-high six assists with Lehman netting two assists and two steals.
Ferris State had won 14 of the previous 22 series' matchups entering the game and had come away with a win in five of the last six outings. The two teams will meet later again this season in Sault Ste. Marie on Feb. 15.
The Bulldogs will be back in action on Thursday (Jan. 30) as FSU visits Wayne State for a league tilt in Detroit. Tipoff is slated for approximately 7:30 p.m. (ET) with the contest being televised live across Michigan by Comcast. It can also be heard live on Sunny 97.3 FM and the Bulldog Sports Network online at FerrisStateBulldogs.com.
Following Thursday's game, the Bulldogs reutrn home to host Saginaw Valley State on Saturday (Feb. 1) inside Wink Arena starting at 3 p.m. (ET). Advance tickets are on sale now and can be purchased thru the FSU Athletics Ticket Office, online at StarTickets.com or by calling (800) 585-3737.