Early Start Fuels Bulldogs In League Clash With Eagles

Josh Young
Ferris' Josh Young catches the basketball in Saturday's home win over Ashland (Photo by Sandy Gholston)

The Ferris State University men’s basketball team continued its impressive play as the Bulldogs rolled to their third-straight Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) victory with a 100-74 triumph over visiting Ashland on Saturday (Jan. 17) afternoon at FSU’s Jim Wink Arena in Big Rapids, Mich.

The Bulldogs sprinted out to a quick 9-0 lead and the Eagles never came closer than six points the rest of the way as Ferris posted a decisive win. FSU led 54-31 at halftime and pushed the advantage as as many as 29 points in the second half. The win was FSU’s second-straight by 25 points or more following Thursday’s (Jan. 15) 98-63 league thumping of Tiffin at Wink Arena.

The Bulldogs had five players reach double-figure scoring as a balanced lineup combined to shoot 54.5% (36-66) for the game, including an 11-of-25 (44%) effort behind the three-point line. Ferris also sank 17-of-20 (85%) free throws.

Sophomore guard Darien Gay tallied a game-high 23 points for FSU with seven assists. Sophomore forward/center Justin Keenan added 20 points and five rebounds. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs also received 16 points from junior guard Josh Young along with 13 points by sophomore guard Matt DeHart and 10 from senior forward Jason Holder.

The Eagles had two players reach double-digits as Kale Richardson netted 18 points and Bret Wackerly scored 16 points. Ashland was 26-of-60 (43.3%) from the field and made seven-of-24 (29.2%) three-point tries along with 15-of-23 (65.2%) free throws.

The game pitted the top two conference scoring leaders to date in Keenan and Richardson. Keenan’s 20 points came on a seven-of-eight performance from the floor in only 20 minutes of playing time while Richardson tallied his 18 points on six-of-14 shooting in 30 minutes. Two of Keenan’s points came on a controversial no-call in the post with 11:12 to play in the second half as Richardson hit the floor. AU head coach Roger Lyons argued an offensive charge should have been called against Keenan and was ejected from the contest after receiving two technical fouls.

Ferris finished with a 42-29 rebounding edge and grabbed 13 offensive boards, which led to a 19-10 advantage in second chance scoring. FSU also forced 15 Eagle turnovers and owned a 27-9 margin in points off turnovers. The Bulldogs opened the scoring in the game with back-to-back dunks from Keenan and Holder after the Eagles turned the ball over on consecutive possessions.

FSU made eight-of-15 (53.3%) three-point attempts in the opening half and never trailed in the game.

The victory was FSU’s second over the Eagles this season following a 96-91 league triumph on the road at Ashland back in December (12/4).

With the win, Ferris improved to 8-7 overall and 6-4 in league play this season. It was the Bulldogs’ fifth victory in their last six outings to date. The Eagles fell to 7-7 overall and 5-5 in conference action with the loss.

The Bulldogs conclude their five-game homestand with a pair of GLIAC encounters at Wink Arena next week. FSU hosts Wayne State in an 8 p.m. (EST) game on Thursday (Jan. 22) before taking on Northwood Saturday (Jan. 24) starting at 3 p.m. (EST).