Bulldogs’ Riley Blair hopes to spark team during U.P. swing

Riley Blair is averaging 6.3 points and 2.5 rebounds per game this season. (Photo courtesy of Ferris State Athletics)

BIG RAPIDS — It’s a critical part of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference schedule for Ferris’ women’s basketball team, which is in the Upper Peninsula this week for two crucial games.

The Bulldogs, 7-5 overall and 5-0 in the GLIAC, play at Michigan Tech Thursday night and at Northern Michigan on Saturday.

Among the key returning players giving the Bulldogs leadership and key floor contributions has been junior guard Riley Blair. She’s averaging 6.4 points and 2.5 rebounds per game and is shooting 41 percent from the floor.

“We have to be consistent for the whole 40 minutes,” Blair said. “We’ve been up-and-down so far. We see moments where we can be really good. We have some girls out with injuries. So far, we’ve done an amazing job of filling the roles others have.”

Blair helped the Bulldogs win 15 games and make the GLIAC tournament semifinals during the 2017-18 season and, played in all 30 games as a sophomore.

This season, “I would say my role is more of a 4 spot with Lilly (George) out. Defensively, I’ve been working on my game. My teammates have helped me improve in that area.

“The key is mental focus and moving at the point of the ball. Keeping yourself between the ball and the basket is always a good thing.”

She averaged nine points per game and had nearly 20 minutes of playing time a game as a member of the squad’s regular playing rotation. As a freshman, Blair started 24 games and played in 26 outings. Blair was the team’s second-leading scorer at 12 points per game and also averaged 4.5 rebounds per contest.

Blair played high school ball at Dearborn Divine Child and had key role for one of state’s top 10 ranked teams. She was an all-stater in 2015 and averaged 15.5 points, eight rebounds and 2.5 steals per game.

Next week, Ferris has home games on Jan. 17 with Purdue-Northwest and Jan. 19 with Wisconsin Parkside.

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Posted by John Raffel

John is a sports reporter with the Pioneer as well as the Herald Review and The Lake County Star. He also coordinates the weekly Pioneer sports outdoors page. He can be reached at (231) 592-8356 or by email at jraffel@pioneergroup.com.

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