Key Plays Down The Stretch Help Bulldogs Beat Wayne State In Exciting League Home Tilt

Big Rapids, Mich. - A number of key plays down the stretch at crunch time lifted the Ferris State University men's basketball team to a hard-fought 75-72 win over visiting Wayne State on Thursday (Feb. 20) night in Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) men's basketball action at FSU's Jim Wink Arena.

The Bulldogs and Warriors battled in yet another classic meeting between the two league foes with the lead changing hands 11 times and the score tied eight different times.

An early five-point Bulldog lead with 12:55 to go in the opening half was erased as the two teams went to the locker room at the break tied at 38 points apiece. 

Wayne State asserted control early in the second half and built its largest lead at seven with 10:18 to go, but the Bulldogs never quit. FSU cut the lead to two points on a three-pointer from sophomore forward Josh Fleming with 8:49 to play before WSU increased the margin back to five again on a pair of Bryan Coleman free throws near the seven-minute mark.

However, Ferris State answered and eventually took the lead for the first time in the second half on junior guard Dietrich Lever's layup in the paint with 5:16 to play. Following a missed jumper from the Warriors, senior forward Raymoan McAfee scored inside on an offensive putback to increase the Bulldogs' lead to four with four and a half minutes to go.

The Warriors, though, scored four-straight to tie the game up on a Chene Phillips jumper with under four minutes to play and grabbed a one-point edge less than a minute later on a layup from Gerald Williams-Taylor.

Again, Ferris State bounced back and the Bulldogs grabbed the lead for good on an offensive rebound and putback from Fleming with 2:37 to play. The Warriors were not able to answer on the ensuing possession and Fleming responded again at the offensive end. He rebounded a missed shot and made one of two free throws to give the Bulldogs a 72-70 lead.

Following Fleming's second miss, the Bulldogs yet again came up with a defensive stop. FSU misfired offensively with a minute to go, but Fleming again came up with a critical offensive board to keep possession of the ball. After a timeout, the Bulldogs ran the shot clock down to near 25 seconds and junior guard Drew Lehman made yet another key play on the offensive glass by grabbing a loose rebound off a Lever miss.

After a Wayne State foul, Lever connected on one of two free throws with 16 seconds remaining to push the lead to three points. Williams-Taylor scored a putback of his on to trim the margin to a single point inside of eight seconds, but Lehman sank two free throws with six seconds to play and the Warriors turned the ball over on their final possession as FSU preserved the victory.

The win avenged an earlier 79-62 Wayne State victory this season in the first matchup between the two teams in Detroit and lifted the Bulldogs to 8-15 overall and 7-12 in league play. WSU fell to 11-12 overall and 9-11 in conference action.

Lehman led the Bulldogs with a team-high 22 points and also totaled a team-best seven rebounds with four assists and two steals in 36 minutes of action. Sophomore guard Jibreel Jackson also had a big night in the backcourt with 17 points, four rebounds and a pair of assists.

Fleming scored 10 of his 12 points in the second half for the Bulldogs and came up with four offensive rebounds while sophomore center Jared Stolicker also scored 12 points inside on six-of-10 shooting and added two blocks on the defensive end. Lever totaled a squad-high five assists and senior forward Raymoan McAfee contributed five points, four rebounds and two blocked shots.

Meanwhile, Coleman led the way for Wayne State with a game-high 23 points, including 14 in the opening period. He also had a contest-best eight rebounds with WSU also receiving 19 points along with six rebounds and six assists from Chene Phillips in 40 minutes of work. Williams-Taylor added 10 points and five rebounds.

Ferris State outrebounded Wayne State 38-31 for the night and grabbed 22 offensive boards to 11 for the visitors, which helped the Bulldogs post a decisive 24-8 margin in second chance scoring. 

The Bulldogs also held a big edge in points off turnovers by a 15-3 count as FSU forced 14 turnovers while totaling only nine of its own. Ferris State finished with four steals and six blocked shots in comparison to WSU's five steals and two rejections.

Overall, Wayne State shot 54.5% for the game and made three-of-five (60%) three's along with nine-of-13 (69.2%) free throws. Ferris State made 42.2% of its field goal attempts and hit seven-of-16 (43.8%) three-point tries, but was only 14-of-23 (60.9%) at the line.

The victory helped the Bulldogs remain in front of Wayne State in the all-time series as FSU now leads by a slim 41-39 count.

Ferris State has three games remaining on its regular-season schedule, including two games against Saginaw Valley State and two home contests.

The Bulldogs will visit Saginaw Valley State on Saturday (Feb. 22) for a 7 p.m. (ET) evening league encounter in University Center before returning home next week to host archrival Grand Valley State on Thursday (Feb. 27) night at Wink Arena. FSU then hosts SVSU in the regular-season finale next Saturday (March 1) in Big Rapids.

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