FSU erupts offensively in win over Ashland

Bulldogs win sixth straight; maintain GLIAC North lead

BIG RAPIDS — Inside and outside, Ferris State’s men’s basketball team couldn’t be contained in an impressive 87-66 win over Ashland on Saturday.

The win helped FSU improve to 12-3 in GLIAC play and 15-7 overall behind 24 points from Kenny Brown and 20 points from Dontae Molden.

The Bulldogs shot the lights out in the first half with a good mix of strong takes to the basket and hot perimeter shooting. FSU hit 5-of-10 3-pointers in the first half in building a convincing 48-27 halftime advantage.

SURROUNDED: Ferris State's Dietrich Lever (4) puts up a shot over a host of Ashland defenders during his team's 87-66 win on Saturday. (Pioneer photo/Martin Slagter)

The first half displayed the Bulldogs’ ability to score both on the interior and from the perimeter, coach Bill Sall said.

“I thought we played about as well as we’ve played all year in that first half,” he said. “We had good energy on defense. Offensively, we did a good job of moving the ball around — it really seemed to flow out there.”

FSU built its lead early behind the 3-point shooting of senior guard Dontae Molden, who hit three consecutive triples to propel the Bulldogs to a 18-10 lead. Kenny Brown made if four straight on the next possession to make it 21-10.

Molden, who has taken on more of a scoring role in his senior season, said he has gained confidence from shooting the ball more after playing the role of facilitator a season ago.

“I’ve gained confidence, and just concentrated on taking good shots,” he said. “That’s something I’ve been working on since the beginning of the year.”

From there, the Bulldogs continued to take the ball to the basket with a high rate of success. Kenny Brown completed a 3-point play at the rim, followed by another 3-point play by Daniel Sutherlin to make it 36-20.

Brown then provided another 3-point play to extend the lead to 40-21. Triples by Drew Lehman and Molden to close out the half made it 46-24.

The Bulldogs’ ability to get to the basket opened things up on the perimeter, Sall said.

“When we were able to bring good energy on defense, we got some stops and pushed the ball,” he said. “Now things start to open up offensively because we were aggressive taking it to the basket.”

After struggling offensively in the first half, Ashland began to find an offensive rhythm in the early stages of the second half, but the Bulldogs always seemed to have an answer.

A lay-up in transition by Ronnie Steward got the Eagles within 52-37 with 13:45. The Bulldogs got back-to-back 3-pointers from Molden and Brown, however, to build the lead back up to 58-40.

The Bulldogs continued to counter Ashland rallies with big shots as the second half wound down. Brown hit a 3-pointer with a man in his face, followed by a Sanders lay-up in transition to make it 67-47 with under 10 minutes to go.

Things are now beginning to click for the Bulldogs, who have won six straight games and hold a two game lead over Northwood in the GLIAC North with four league games remaining in the regular season.

Brown said his team is piquing at the right time.

“I feel like this team is starting to gel,” he said. “We all play for the seniors and want to win for them.”

Molden, who played a valuable role on last year’s GLIAC North championship team, said he never doubted the Bulldogs had the pieces to contend. Now the young FSU team is starting to realize its potential.

“I never doubted it,” he said. “It’s just playing out for the best right now. We’re playing for a (GLIAC) championship. It’s not about how we got there, but the fact that we’re here now.”

Ferris State also got big contributions from Sutherlin, who finished with 16 points and seven rebounds, while Jerrell Sanders tallied 14 points and seven boards in the win. Ashland’s lone bright spot was big man Evan Yates, who scored 27 points and 12 rebounds in a losing effort.

Visit the photo gallery to see more photos from this game.

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