Late Bulldog Rally Comes Up Short In Home Loss To Chargers

Justin Keenan
Ferris' Justin Keenan goes up to score against Hillsdale (Photo Courtesy Zeke Jennings/Big Rapids Pioneer)

The Ferris State University men's basketball team rallied back from an 11-point deficit with 1:15 to play to tie the game, but a putback in the closing second lifted Hillsdale to a thrilling 79-77 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) triumph over the host Bulldogs Saturday (Dec. 13) afternoon inside Jim Wink Arena at Big Rapids, Mich.

The Bulldogs trailed 76-65 with 1:15 to play before going on a 12-2 run to tie the game on a layup by freshman guard Dontae Molden (Detroit/Pershing) with eight seconds remaining. However, the Chargers quickly went the length of the floor and following a missed shot by Evan Steward, it was scooped up by Keith MacKenzie who laid in the game winner with less than a second to play. FSU got off a three-quarter court shot from sophomore forward/center Justin Keenan (Grand Rapids/Ottawa Hills) that fell short as time expired.

FSU saw its two-game winning streak snapped despite a game-high 21 points and nine rebounds from Keenan. He also added four assists, three steals and a blocked shot in 34 minutes of action. Three other Bulldog players reached double-figure scoring as sophomore guard Darien Gay (Detroit/Henry Ford) tallied 14 points, junior guard Josh Young (Ypsilanti) scored 13 points and Molden contributed 12 points in the losing cause.

Their efforts were offset by the Chargers, who also had four players score in double-digits. Both Tony Gugino and MacKenzie recorded 17 points while Brad Guinane and Steward posted 10 points apiece.

Austin Randel
FSU's Austin Randel handles the ball against the Chargers (Photo Courtesy Sandy Gholston)

The Chargers led by as many as 15 points in the opening stanza and led most of the final period after building a 39-31 halftime edge. FSU took a 53-51 lead with 10:49 remaining before the Chargers regained the advantage and appeared to be in control after two free throws by MacKenzie with 1:15 to play. However, Ferris forced three turnovers in the final minute, including one with less than 30 seconds remaining that set up the game-tying layup by Molden with eight seconds to go.

Hillsdale connected on 56% (28-50) of its field goal attempts and sank 14-of-21 (66.7%) tries in the final half. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs managed to make 30-of-64 (46.9%) attempts for the afternoon. Both teams also shot the ball well beyond the arc as the Chargers converted 10-of-20 (50%) attempts and Ferris conected on eight-of-19 (42.1%) long-range shots. HC was 13-of-20 (65%) from the free throw stripe with FSU shooting 56.3% (9-16) from the line.

Defensively, the Bulldogs forced 19 turnovers but were slightly outrebounded 32-30 for the game. FSU did come up with 14 offensive boards compared to only eight for Hillsdale and posted a 14-8 edge in second chance scoring along with 30-12 margin in points off turnovers. Ferris also owned a 28-24 advantage in the paint.

The Bulldogs dropped to 3-4 overall and 2-2 in conference play with the home setback while Hillsdale improved to 5-1 overall and 3-0 in the GLIAC.

Things won't get any easier for the Bulldogs as they will host the nation's top-ranked Findlay Oilers on Sunday (Dec. 14) afternoon inside Wink Arena. Tipoff time for the league encounter is set for 4 p.m. (EST) as the Bulldogs will play for the second-straight day.