Big Rapids, Mich.- The Ferris State University women's basketball squad returned home on Thursday (Feb. 5) after a two-game swing on the road, but was unable to take down the nationally 13th-ranked Michigan Tech Huskies in Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) play, as they fell 72-61 at Jim Wink Arena.
Michigan Tech jumped in front early in the opening half and led by as many as seven points in the first stanza before FSU trimmed the margin to four at the break.
Both teams received strong interior play in the opening half and each finished with 18 points inside the paint over the first 20 minutes as MTU took a 31-27 lead at the half.
In the second frame, the Huskies came out of the gates quickly and built a 21-point lead only seven minutes into the period. However, the Bulldogs rallied and cut the margin down to 10 points with 4:39 to go, but could get no closer as Michigan Tech prevailed.
Following the loss, the Bulldogs are now 9-10 overall and 7-9 in league play after dropping their second-straight game. Meanwhile, the Huskies sit atop the GLIAC North Division with a 19-1 overall mark and a 15-1 league slate.
The Bulldogs finished the contest shooting 43.4% from the floor, but made only 2-of-8 (25%) from the three-point line. FSU finished strong from the free-throw stripe, connecting on 13-of-16 (81.3%) for the night.
The league-leading Huskies shot 45.3% from the field and connected on 5-of-21 (23.8%) from downtown, with all five makes coming in the second half. They also shot a staggering 19-of-21 (90.5%) from the line.
FSU was led by junior forward Christina Branch, who scored 15 points on 7-of-10 shooting and also grabbed six rebounds. Senior forward Ashley Rando also had a big night and finished with 14 points, six rebounds and three assists. Junior guards Destiney Robinson and Katie Mavis chipped in 10 and nine points, respectively, for the Bulldogs.
The Huskies were led by Jillian Ritchie and Danielle Blake, who both finished with a game-high 23 points. Blake also posted six rebounds, six assists and four blocks on the evening with two steals. Kelli Guy rounded out a trio of Huskies in double figures with 10 points for the contest.
The Bulldogs forced 13 Michigan Tech turnovers in the second matchup between the two teams this season although the Huskies were able to force 17 Bulldog miscues. It led to a 23-8 advantage for the Huskies in points off of turnovers.
The Bulldogs held a slight edge over Michigan Tech on the boards with a 32-30 figure and owned an 11-10 advantage on the offensive glass, which resulted in a 15-9 edge for FSU in second chance production. Senior center Hannah Hoffman had a game-high nine boards for the Bulldogs while Brenna Heise led the Huskies with seven in the game.
Finally, Ferris State finished with 13 assists, eight steals and three blocks overall compared to MTU's 18 assists, seven steals and four blocks. Mavis had three steals for the Bulldogs while Robinson netted four assists and Rando had three.
The Bulldogs did receive a big performance from the bench as FSU's reserves outscored MTU 27-8 for the evening.
Ferris State's GLIAC Championship football and volleyball teams from the fall were honored during Thursday's home twin bill and the Bulldogs wore their red road uniforms for the game as part of a "red out" effort in support of American Heart Month.
Ferris State will wrap up its homestand this week by hosting Northern Michigan on Saturday (Feb. 7) at Wink Arena. Tipoff is set for 1 p.m. (ET). A special Festival of the Arts performance will take place during Saturday's doubleheader.
Following Saturday's game, FSU begins a three-game road swing next week before playing their final two regular-season outings back at home in late February.
- Contribution by Cody Carlson (FerrisStateBulldogs.com)