Back in the win column

FSU men hold off Wayne State for 75-72 home victory

BIG RAPIDS — After the Ferris State men’s basketball team defeated Wayne State, 75-72 on Thursday night, head coach Andy Bronkema had just one thing to say; “Yeah baby!”

The Bulldogs (8-15, 7-12 GLIAC) dropped the Warriors (11-12, 9-11 GLIAC), but it was no easy task.

SURVEYING: Ferris State’s Jibreel Jackson (right) sizes up a Wayne State defender during GLIAC men’s basketball action at Jim Wink Arena on Thursday. The Bulldogs held off the Warriors for a 75-72 victory. (Pioneer Photo/Daine Pavloski)

SURVEYING: Ferris State’s Jibreel Jackson (right) sizes up a Wayne State defender during GLIAC men’s basketball action at Jim Wink Arena on Thursday. The Bulldogs held off the Warriors for a 75-72 victory. (Pioneer Photo/Daine Pavloski)

Drew Lehman started out hot for the Bulldogs, scoring nine of Ferris’ first 14, but the Warriors battled back, going up 26-25 on a layup from Chene Phillips late in the opening half. The Bulldog offense was stagnant until Jibreel Jackson connected from distance to take the lead back, but it wouldn’t last long. The Warriors answered and pushed out to a 36-33 lead, but the Bulldogs were able to even things up at 38-38 going into halftime.

The Warriors pushed out to an 46-42 lead early in the second half, but Lehman hit a trey to make it a one-point game. From there the Warriors kept the lead around five with the Bulldogs struggling to get back in the game, until they switched things up defensively.

Ferris State utilized a zone press in the second half, which Bronkema said was a key to the win.

“I have to give it to my assistants, they thought of trying out our zone press in the second half and it really worked,” Bronkema said. “We were able to force some turnovers which led to easy transition baskets for us.”

The press finally gave the Bulldogs back-to-back baskets which made it 62-61 with six minutes to play. The Warriors got a quick bucket, but another Lehman 3-pointer tied things up and Dietrich Lever followed with a swooping layup to give the Bulldogs a two-point lead. Josh Fleming corralled some huge offensiveboards late in the game to keep the Bulldogs up by two with 1:40 to play.

As the Bulldogs tried to run out the clock, Lever missed a jumper as the shot clock expired but Fleming snagged the rebound to keep the time ticking. The shot clock ran down again and the Bulldogs missed another two-point try, but Lehman was able to chase down the board, forcing the Warriors to foul Lever.

Lever made one free throw to go up 73-70 and the Warriors got a quick bucket to make it a one-point game, but the Bulldogs knocked down the next two free trows to make it 75-72, which would stand until the final buzzer.

The Bulldogs shot just under 61 percent from the free throw line, but four starters in double-digits were able to tip the scales in the Bulldogs’ favor.

“We played so well we overcame our free-throw shooting, which has been a hard thing to handle all year,” Bronkema said. “This is a good win. Everyone that played for us, off the bench and starters, played hard and stepped up.”

Lehman led the way with 22 points and three 3-pointers and Jackson added 17. Jared Stolicker and Fleming each added 12 points for the Bulldogs in the conference victory.

The Bulldogs are in action next on Saturday at Saginaw Valley State University with a tipoff set for 7 p.m.

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