FSU surives scare in exhibition with Calvin

BIG RAPIDS — A tale of two halves? You can say that again.

Ferris State’s men’s basketball team survived a scare in a 63-62 exhibition win over Calvin College on Tuesday, nearly squandering a 20-point halftime lead.

With a number of key contributors, including Trent Messer and Dietrich Lever sitting out on Tuesday, FSU coach Bill Sall said he saw plenty of positives and things his team needs to work on in the win.

“In the first half we had some good things going,” he said. “There was a lot of positives and high energy on the defensive end.”

“We came out flat in the second half, and I think we panicked a little bit,” he said. “It’s a great learning experience that I’d rather have in an exhibition game than in a league game.”

TO THE HOOP: FSU’s Kenny Brown drives the lane during first half action against Calvin College. (Pioneer photo/Martin Slagter)

The Bulldogs showed the ability to score in transition and from deep in closing out the first half with a 43-23 lead after the game was kept in single digits by the Knights throughout much of the half.

The second half, however, saw the Bulldogs shoot just 25.8 percent from the field while putting up just 20 points in the stanza. That allowed the Knights to close the game within a single point with under a minute to go, but they were unable to ever take the lead.

Preseason All-GLIAC guard Kenny Brown showed he still has the scoring touch, scoring 19 of his game-high 31 points in the first half, including three 3-pointers. The Bulldogs were 5-of-10 shooting from deep in the first half.

FSU got a lift in the backcourt in the first half from a number of newcomers, including freshman Jibreel Jackson, who saw significant minutes at point guard.. Jackson scored seven points and dished out three first half assists in leading the FSU offense.

Division I transfer Raymoan McAfee provided defense on the interior for the Bulldogs, grabbing 10 rebounds while blocking three shots on the interior.

Sall said he was happy with how Jackson performed, particularly in the first half, while experiencing the growing pains that come with being a starting point guard in the second.

“I thought he did quite well in a lot of situations,” he said. “But that’s a new scenario for him to be in as a freshman and starting at point guard.”

With a nine-point lead with just over two minutes left in the first half, FSU big man Daniel Sutherlin provided a huge one-handed reverse jam in the lane that brought the crowd to its feet while giving the Bulldogs a lift the rest of the half.

Sutherlin, who finished with 10 points and seven rebounds, said the uneven performance was a sign of a team still looking to find itself in the early going.

“We dealt with this last year, with having a big lead and blowing it at the end,” he said. “We’re just starting to get into our groove. I think with a couple more games under our belt, we’ll be able to handle these situations a lot better.”

After a pair of buckets, Brown closed out the half with a buzzer-beater from behind the arc increase the lead to 20 at the half.

Ferris State struggled from the floor to start the second half, allowing Calvin to get back within 52-41 with 10:18 to play following a triple by Jordan Brink. The Knights’ Tom Snikkers then buried another triple to make it 54-46 with 8:40 left in the game.

FSU held the Knights off despite seeing its lead dwindle down to four with seven minutes to go. Brown continued to lead the offense, hitting a pair of jumpers while much of the rest of the Bulldogs’ offense remained stagnant.

Sall said he thought Brown provided some big shots, but knows the offense will need to work harder to get him better shots once they get into the regular season.

“We have to get him shots,” he said. “In the first half he took some good shots and in the second half, not as many. He did come up with some key plays for us down the stretch that helped us win the game.”

Calvin fought back, however, getting back within 61-57 with less than two minutes to go, but Brown drove the lane and scored to make it 63-57 with 1:40 to go.

Tyler Kruis provided a 3-point play on the next possession to cut the lead to 63-60 before the Knights made a stop to get the ball. Calvin’s Mickey DeVries then provided a tip-in to cut it to 63-62 with 26 seconds.

After Jackson missed the front end of a one-and-one for the Bulldogs, Calvin got the ball back but Snikkers missed a shot in the lane that was rebounded by Orange. Snikkers got another desperation heave in at the buzzer, but the shot rimmed out.

For the time being, Sall said there are a lot of things to learn from Tuesday’s exhibition.

“I can’t wait to get to the tape and show these guys the difference in effort between the first half and the second,” he said. “There’s such a minute difference between playing at the level you’re supposed to be playing at and just going out there and kind of playing. In the first half we were getting pressure on the ball and getting in lanes on defense, but we had none of that in the second half.”

FSU tips the regular season off against Lewis at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 17 at Wink Arena.

 

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