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(Becci Houdek, Kelsey DeNoyelles, Tricia Principe)
Big Rapids, Mich. - A game-winning layup with 4.9 seconds remaining combined with a stop on the game's final possession lifted the Ferris State University women's basketball squad to an exciting 81-79 triumph over Northwood in Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) action on Saturday (Dec. 11) at FSU's Jim Wink Arena.
The Bulldogs fought back from a six-point deficit with five minutes to play and still trailed by five with only two minutes left in the contest. However, FSU held the Timberwolves without a basket over the final 1:59 of the game in notching the win.
Ferris grabbed a one-point lead with 35 seconds left on a bucket from senior forward Tiara Adams (Lansing/Waverly). Northwood's Savannah Stedman was fouled at the other end and made one of two free throws to tie the game up at 79 points apiece with 21 seconds remaining.
Following a timeout, the Bulldogs' scored the game winner as senior guard Becci Houdek (Canton) drove the right side of the floor and dumped off a pass to an open teammate in junior forward Lindsey Pettit (Portland), who was able to lay it in with just under five seconds to go. The Timberwolves got off an open three-pointer at the final horn, but Pam Wilson's potential game-winner came up empty.
"We started running a little more zone the last five minutes and it kind of took them out of their rhythem," said FSU head coach Tracey Dorow. "They missed a ton of free throws, but we found a way to get it done."
The Bulldogs improved to 5-3 overall and evened their league mark at 2-2 this season by beating Northwood, which lost for the third time inside Wink Arena this year after they posted an 0-2 mark against Gannon and Edinboro at the Bulldog Classic back in November (Nov. 20-21).
Ferris led 36-30 at halftime after limiting Northwood to only 36.7% (11-30) shooting in the initial frame. The FSU advantage grew to as many as 11 points with 16:07 remaining in the game before the Timberwolves rallied.
NU outscored FSU 16-4 over a nearly six-minute span from that point forward to take a one-point lead with 10:42 left to go. The Northwood lead grew to as many as seven points with 7:23 to play, but the Bulldogs didn't go away. A layup and two free throws from junior guard Tricia Principe (Kalamazoo/Mattawan) trimmed NU's five-point advantage with two minutes left down to only one with a minute to play before a missed Wilson layup led to an easy basket at the other end for Adams as Ferris finally regained the advantage with 35 seconds left in the outing.
"Early in the second half we got stagnant on offense, but later in the game we did a better job of running our offense and getting a few stops defensively," Dorow said.
Principe led the Bulldogs with 23 points, six rebounds and five assists in the contest. She was joined in double-figures by three others, including Adams with 14 points and five boards. Pettit added 12 points while senior center Andrea Clancy (Port Austin/North Huron) chipped in with 11 points on the day.
Their efforts helped offset a game-high 34 points from Northwood's Wilson, who added nine rebounds of her own in playing all 40 minutes. Megan Gonta and Stedman both totaled 12 points while Brittany Gibson had 10 for the Timberwolves.
Ferris shot 50% (27-54) from the floor for the day and made 23-of-28 (82.1%) free throws while hitting four-of-12 (33.3%) three-pointers. On the opposite side, the Timberwolves shot 45.8% (27-59) after making 55.2% (16-29) of their field goal tries in the final 20 minutes. They were eight-of-20 (40%) beyond the arc and 17-of-34 (50%) at the stripe.
The Bulldogs outperformed the Timverwolves inside with a 40-22 edge in points inside the paint. They also owned a 39-31 rebounding advantage over NU and a slim 10-8 margin in second chance scoring. Northwood totaled 11 points off of 12 Bulldog turnovers while FSU had only eight on eight NU miscues.
Besides the four players in double-digits, the Bulldogs also benefited from seven assists by Houdek, which helped FSU total 21 assists as a team. Principe added five assists and junior guard Kelsey DeNoyelles (Mt. Pleasant/Sacred Heart) dished out four to go with eight points and six boards.
Northwood fell to 2-6 overall and 0-4 in league play this campaign as half of their losses this year have come in Big Rapids.
Ferris State will hit the road for a pair of conference contests away from home prior to the holiday break. FSU visits Michigan Tech on Saturday, Dec. 18, for a league tilt in Houghton and then meets Northern Michigan the following day on Sunday, Dec. 19, in a conference game at Marquette. Both outings tipoff at 3 p.m. (ET).
Bulldog Bites: The Bulldogs improved to 46-16 all-time over Northwood and are now 24-6 against the Timberwolves in Big Rapids ..... Northwood had won four of the last seven matchups prior to the game after finally snapping a 24-game series' losing streak to FSU back in January of 2008 ..... FSU's Tracey Dorow improved to 23-4 overall in her career versus the Timberwolves ....... The contest was part of Ferris' Saturday "Kidz Day" event with special activities throughout the day for all children sponsored by Green's Sporting Goods ........ A total of 11 Bulldog players saw action and 10 of them scored ..... The contest featured five lead changes and it was tied four times.