Ferris State routs GVSU men’s basketball 98-73

GVL / Luke Holmes - Drake Baar (21) jumps for the jump ball. GVSU Men’s Basketball lost to Ferris State University on Monday, Jan. 30, 2016.

Luke Holmes

GVL / Luke Holmes – Drake Baar (21) jumps for the jump ball. GVSU Men’s Basketball lost to Ferris State University on Monday, Jan. 30, 2016.

Beau Troutman

The Ferris State Bulldogs are billed as one of the top teams in the GLIAC, and they lived up to that hype Monday night against Grand Valley State.

The Bulldogs (18-3, 12-2 GLIAC) won their 13th straight game in a 98-73 rout over the Lakers Monday, Jan. 30 at the GVSU Fieldhouse. The Lakers, who have now lost two out of their last three, dropped to 13-8 (9-5).

The Lakers had just returned from a trip to the Upper Peninsula, playing two games in three days. Fatigue wasn’t an excuse for Monday’s performance.

“It was our third game in a short period of time, but no excuses,” said GVSU senior Luke Ryskamp, who had 13 points. “We just didn’t (seem) ready to play, that’s really what it came down to.”

Though GVSU started the game with a 7-2 run thanks to five straight points by center Drake Baar, the athleticism and frenetic pace of the Bulldogs gave way to an early FSU advantage. The Bulldogs employed a full-court press defense in the first half that gave GVSU problems moving the ball up the floor, and even forced a five-second inbounds violation.

One of the most telling statistics of the night was the gap in free throws. The Bulldogs shot an unheard of 32-of-41 from the charity strike to the Lakers’ 13-of-17. The Bulldogs drew several blocking fouls and converted on three-point plays chances all night, leading to easy opportunities at the line.

“Forty-one free throws, that might be an arena record,” said GVSU coach Ric Wesley. “But Ferris was the aggressor. We didn’t take charges, we didn’t step in there and cut off the lanes. Fouls were a factor in their favor.”

Part of the Lakers’ struggles was the fact that senior forward Trevin Alexander picked up two early fouls, forcing him to sit for most of the half. Forward Zach West, who led the GLIAC in three-point field goal percentage going into the game, had no points on 0-of-3 three-point shooting in 22 minutes of action.

The game was mostly lost for the Lakers in the first half. Though GVSU trailed a manageable 28-20 at the 7:16 mark after junior forward Chris Dorsey hit two free throws, the Laker offense caught a dry spell. From the 7:16 mark to 1:56 remaining in the first, FSU went on a 19-0 scoring run, giving them a 27-point lead with under two minutes to go. The only points the Lakers would score after the dry spell were a pair of free throws from Ryskamp, a Baar layup and a half-court buzzer beater from Dorsey.

The half-court shot raised a couple signs of life in Fieldhouse Arena, but didn’t do so much in the way of raising the team’s spirits as GVSU went into the break trailing 52-27.

“I just think we didn’t come ready to play,” Dorsey said. “We came out soft and tentative, and we didn’t take care of the basketball at all on offense. We’ve just got to look forward. Think about it tonight, forget about it tomorrow and go on to the next game.”

Four out of the five Bulldogs starters scored in double figures on the night. FSU got production off the bench as well, namely from Mory Diane who tied for a team-high 14 points, and rangy forward Markese Mayfield who had 12 points. The Bulldogs shot 50 percent from the field as a team, and 7-of-12 from behind the arc in the first half.

The Lakers, who lead the GLIAC in both field goal percentage and three-point percentage, simply couldn’t get shots to fall. The Lakers shot a dismal 8-of-33 from the field in the first half and 28-of-70 for the game, including just 4-of-20 from three-point range.

Sophomore center Justin Greason led the Lakers with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Baar finished with 17, while Alexander had 11 points with seven boards.

The Lakers will hit the road again this weekend, starting with Wayne State Thursday, Feb. 2 and Saginaw Valley State Saturday, Feb. 4. It will be GVSU’s third and fourth road contests in the past five games.

“End of January, end of February, it’s the dog days of the season, and we’re in a particular tough stretch,” Wesley said. “We’ve got to suck it up and move on.”