Coach Tom Ludwig Reunion Video
Postgame Press Conference
Ludwig Era Reunion Photo Gallery
Big Rapids, Mich. - The seventh-ranked Ferris State University men's basketball squad held off the Northern Michigan Wildcats in a key Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) tilt before a big crowd on Saturday (Jan. 13) as the Bulldogs posted a 74-71 triumph inside Jim Wink Arena.
On a day in which the Bulldogs honored legends from the past, FSU fought back from a four-point halftime deficit and built a 14-point lead with 7:46 to play. However, the visiting Wildcats rallied down the stretch and had an opportunity to potentially knot the game up with a three on their final possession, but FSU came up with a big defensive stand to preserve the win.
With the victory, the Bulldogs kept their momentum going as they improved to 18-1 overall and stayed atop the GLIAC standings with an 8-1 conference record.
Ferris State honored former head coach Tom Ludwig and a large group of players and staff from the era in which he coached (1979-96) during a special halftime ceremony. In addition, FSU head coach Andy Bronkema and NMU head coach Bill Sall, who formerly served as the Bulldogs' head coach, joined Ludwig on the floor prior to tipoff to honor him for his accomplishments.
once the game started, Sall's Wildcats utilized a half-court zone to keep the score close in the early going. NMU, which led for 17 minutes in the game, built a six-point lead before a late basket by the Bulldogs before halftime trimmed the margin to four at the break.
FSU turned up the pressure and used some timely outside shooting to seize control in the second half and the margin grew to 14 with 7:46 left in the contest. But, NMU shot 64% from beyond the arc on seven made three's in the final period to climb back in the game before a potential game-tying three from standout guard Naba Echols in the closing seconds came well off target.
Ferris State was led by junior center Zach Hankins' team-high 20 points and 10 rebounds in a double-double performance. Senior forward Noah King added 14 points and hit a trio of three-pointers to join him in double-figures. The Bulldogs also got nine points each from the senior tandem of Drew Cushingberry and Peter Firlik with junior forward Markese Mayfield adding eight points and eight boards.
Echols paced NMU with a game-high 23 points and six assists while Eddie Tornes added 14 points and Isaiah Johnson scored 13 points in the setback.
Overall, the Bulldogs shot at a 47% clip for the game and went seven-of-19 (36.8%) from long range along with nine-of-12 (75%) at the line. Northern Michigan finished shooting 45% overall and hit 11-of-18 (61.1%) three's in addition to 10-of-12 (83.3%) free throws.
While Ferris State outscored the Wildcats 34-22 in the paint, NMU managed to score 17 points off of 10 Bulldog turnovers while FSU got only 10 points on 12 Wildcat miscues. Northern Michigan also owned a 12-6 edge in second chance scoring on 10 offensive boards with FSU slightly owning the rebounding battle overall 35-33 for the day.
The game featured eight lead changes and was tied six times. With the loss, the Wildcats fell to 9-7 overall and 6-3 in the GLIAC after starting the week tied with FSU and Lake Superior State atop the GLIAC standings. FSU and LSSU remain tied two games in front of the Wildcats now in league action.
Ferris State will hit the road for its next two league games this coming week as FSU visits new league member Purdue-Northwest for the first-time ever on Thursday (Jan. 18) evening for an 8 p.m. (ET) game in Hammond, Ind. The Bulldogs then face archrival Grand Valley State on Saturday (Jan. 20) night in Allendale with tipoff also set for 8 p.m.