Ferris' Josh Young holds onto the basketball in Thursday's win over Wayne State (Photo by Sandy Gholston)
It was a battle at Ferris State University’s Jim Wink Arena on Thursday (Jan. 22) evening, but the Bulldog men’s basketball team prevailed with a hard-fought 76-72 overtime triumph over visiting Wayne State in Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) action at Big Rapids, Mich.
The host Bulldogs outscored the Warriors 11-7 in the extra session and received a game-high 32 points from sophomore forward/center Justin Keenan in notching their fourth-straight victory and sixth win in the last seven contests.
Ferris took a 37-34 halftime lead despite 11 turnovers in the opening period. However, the Warriors battled back and tallied 31 points in the second frame compared to only 28 for FSU.
The Bulldogs led by as many as eight points in holding the lead for nearly the entire first half. In the second half, though, it was the Warriors who led most of the way after they finally jumped in front with 13:21 to play.
Wayne State built its largest lead at 60-53 with eight minutes to go, but the Bulldogs scored nine consecutive points to draw back within a single point. FSU finally tied the game up with only 33 seconds left on a jumper by junior guard Josh Young and forced a turnover in the closing second to send the game into overtime.
In the extra period, Keenan scored nine of FSU’s 11 points, including seven points from the free throw line where he finished 14-of-17 on the night. His final two free throws with 11 seconds left gave Ferris a five-point lead and after a WSU basket, freshman guard Dontae Molden hit one of two free throws with five seconds left to seal the victory.
In addition to Keenan’s 32 points, the Bulldogs also received 14 points from Young and 13 by Molden. FSU shot 50% (25-50) for the game and was 21-of-29 (72.4%) at the free throw stripe. The Bulldogs were only five-of-13 (38.5%) behind the three-point line.
Wayne State had four players reach double-digit scoring as Bryan Wright led the way with 19 points, Shane Lawal contributed 15 points, Bryan Smothers netted 12 points and Jerry Oden scored 10 points. WSU made 25-of-55 (45.5%) field goals and 17-of-23 (73.9%) free throws along with five-of-14 (35.7%) three-pointers.
In addition to the shooting percentages, the other statistics for the game were virtually even as both teams had 19 turnovers and WSU slightly outrebounded FSU 32-30 for the game. The Bulldogs had 20 second-chance points compared to only 10 for Wayne State, but the Warriors’ bench outscored Ferris’ by a 24-6 count. FSU also took advantage of the Warriors’ turnovers by owning a 27-19 advantage in points off miscues.
Both teams had 14 assists. The Bulldogs came up with eight blocked shots and 10 steals while the Warriors managed two blocks and 11 thefts for the game.
With the win, the Bulldogs improved to 9-7 overall and 7-4 in the GLIAC standings remain tied for second place in the North Division with Grand Valley State as both teams are one-game behind Lake Superior State. WSU dropped to 6-9 overall and 4-7 in conference action.
The victory was only Ferris’ third over the Warriors since the 1995-96 season.
FSU concludes its five-game homestand by hosting the Northwood Timberwolves on Saturday (Jan. 24) afternoon with tipoff set for 3 p.m. (EST) at Wink Arena. Saturday’s game will also represent FSU’s annual Community Health Day as a variety of health-related informational tables and screenings will take place during the doubleheader inside the FSU Sports Complex.