The Ferris State University men's basketball squad became the first team in Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) history to win four consecutive league tournament titles as the Bulldogs beat Lake Superior State 69-61 on Sunday (March 4) in the finale at FSU's Jim Wink Arena.
The Bulldogs improved to a nation-leading 32-1 overall with the triumph and will not await the official announcement of the NCAA selections and site location later tonight for the NCAA Division II Midwest Regional set for March 10-13. The Bulldogs are presently the region's top-ranked squad and could potentially play host to their first-ever regional tournament.
In Sunday's tournament title game, the Bulldogs beat LSSU for the second time in three tries this campaign despite turning the ball over 21 times. A strong defensive performance lifted FSU to the win as the Bulldogs limited LSSU to only 39.1% shooting for the afternoon.
After an early start by the Lakers, Ferris State surged in front and built a 38-27 halftime lead. The lead grew to as many as 17 points with 4:59 to play and the Bulldogs held on down the stretch for the triumph.
Ferris State won its school-record 20th consecutive game since a Dec. 16 setback to LSSU in Sault Ste. Marie and the Bulldogs also claimed their 25th-straight victory inside Wink Arena dating back to last year. FSU is currently unbeaten at home (19-0) this season.
The Bulldogs were led by junior All-America center Zach Hankins, who totaled 13 points on six-of-six shooting to go with 13 rebounds, four assists, three blocked shots and a steal.
Ferris State also got 12 points from senior forward Noah King along with 10 points off the bench from redshirt freshman wing Jaylin McFadden. The senior combination of Drew Cushingberry and Peter Firlik chipped in eight points each while DeShaun Thrower had seven points off the bench in the Bulldogs' 12th-straight GLIAC Tournament victory.
Overall, FSU shot 48.1% for the day and nailed seven-of-18 (38.9%) three's along with 12-of-17 (70.6%) free throws. LSSU converted only 25-of-64 field goals and went five-of-17 (29.4%) beyond the arc in addition to six-of-14 (42.9%) tries from the charity stripe.
The Bulldogs outrebounded LSSU 42-34 for the day and totaled 34 points inside the paint to 30 for the Lakers. The Bulldogs also dished out 18 assists and came away with 11 steals and nine blocked shots in the victory.
Meanwhile, Lake Superior State finished with 13 steals, 12 assists and one block while turning the ball over 14 times in the game, which featured three lead changes and was tied only twice.
The Lakers were led by Ke'Montrece Collins' game-high 16 points off the bench, but he was the lone Lake Superior State player to finish in double-digits. FSU held standout senior guard Akaemji Williams to eight points on three-of-13 shooting in the triumph as LSSU dropped to 24-7 overall this campaign.
Ferris State's Cushingberry and King both claimed their fourth consecutive GLIAC Tournament crowns as senior players on the floor for the Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs' Hankins was tabbed as the GLIAC Tournament Most Valuable Player with both Cushingberry and King garnering GLIAC All-Tournament Team accolades for FSU.
The official NCAA Division II Tournament selections will be announced Sunday night at 10:30 p.m. (ET) at www.NCAA.com. As the GLIAC Tournament Champion, the Bulldogs will earn their fourth consecutive national tournament berth as the league's automatic qualifier and will be making their 13th NCAA-II bid in school history.