Three Players Reach Double-Figures In Final Preseason Tilt For Bulldogs

Three players reached double-figure scoring as the Ferris State University men's basketball team rolled to a 80-66 win over longtime West Michigan rival Calvin in exhibition play Tuesday (Nov. 11) evening inside FSU's Jim Wink Arena at Big Rapids, Mich.

Cornerstone Game Photo
Ferris State's Matt DeHart handles the ball in Tuesday's exhibition win over Calvin at Wink Arena (Photo Courtesy Sandy Gholston)

The Bulldogs jumped out to a 48-31 halftime lead and never trailed in the final 30 minutes of the game while leading by as many as 25 points with 17 minutes to go in posting the convincing win. Ten of the 12 FSU players who played in the outing scored as the Bulldogs displayed an improved performance at both ends of the floor over their earlier 74-73 home exhibition triumph versus Cornerstone (Oct. 30).

Sophomore center Justin Keenan, a preseason All-Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) pick, led the way with game-highs of 19 points and 10 rebounds. Two newcomers also reached double-digits as junior guard Josh Young chipped in 13 points and junior forward Verdell Billingsley added 10 points for the Bulldogs.

Ferris shot 56.3% (18-32) from the floor in the opening half and finished the contest with a 45.6% (31-68) shooting performance. While the Bulldogs were only three-of-14 (21.4%) behind this season's longer three-point distance, they did convert 15-of-25 (60.0%) free throws.

FSU also held a commanding 53-29 rebounding edge with 24 coming on the offensive glass compared to only nine for the Knights. Defensively, the Bulldogs forced 15 turnovers and limited Calvin to 39.3% (22-56) shooting for the game. The Knights made five-of-15 (33.3%) treys and sank 17-of-22 (77.3%) tries from the charity stripe.

Calvin, which is this season's favorite to win the competitive Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA), also had three players reach double-figure production as preseason Division III All-American Caleb Veldhouse scored a team-high 17 points, John Mantel netted 13 points and Dustin Smith contributed 10 points.

Ferris showed its offensive distribution as the Bulldogs dished out 26 assists on 31 made baskets. Sophomore guard Darien Gay had six assists, freshman guard Dontae Molden handed out five assists and senior forward Jason Holder also recorded five assists on the night.

For the game, FSU came up with three blocked shots and eight steals while Calvin finished with 15 assists, nine steals and a single block. Ferris held a commanding 48-20 edge in points scored inside the paint and a 16-2 margin in fast break scoring. However, the Bulldogs did turn the ball over 19 times which enabled the Knights to post a slim 17-16 advantage in points off turnovers.

The win enabled seventh-year FSU head coach Bill Sall to continue his recent success in the Ferris-Calvin series. Sall, who was a two-time NCAA Division III All-American as a standout player at Calvin from 1985-90, has been involved in 13 previous Calvin-Ferris regular-season meetings while emerging victorious 10 times. Sall led the Knights to three victories as a player (1987-90) and recorded a 2-1 mark as a Calvin assistant coach (1992-95) against the Bulldogs. He helped guide FSU to a 2-1 ledger during his initial Bulldog coaching stint from 1995-98 and is currently 3-1 versus the Knights since returning as Ferris’ head coach in regular-season play.

The contest was the final preseason tilt for the Bulldog men's basketball team, which will officially tip off the 2008-09 campaign by visiting preseason nationally-ranked Northern Kentucky this Saturday, Nov. 15, for a 1 p.m. (EST) afternoon clash. The game will be the first official regular-season contest in NKU's new 10,000-seat state of the art Bank of Kentucky Center at Highland Heights, Ky. The Norse are ranked fourth nationally in the Division II Bulletin Preseason National Poll.