A magical season continues for the Ferris State University men's basketball squad as the Bulldogs captured the 2018 NCAA Division II Midwest Regional Championship on their home floor with an exciting 80-65 victory over the Findlay Oilers on Tuesday (March 13) night before a sellout crowd of 2,434 fans at FSU's Jim Wink Arena.
With the win, the Bulldogs advance to the NCAA Division II Elite Eight set for March 20-24 in Sioux Falls, S.D. The official seedings and tournament matchups for the national quarterfinals slated for next Tuesday will be announced soon by the NCAA.
The Bulldogs won their 23rd consecutive contest and avenged last year's regional semifinal setback to the Oilers with a strong effort fueled by the home crowd. FSU improved to a nation-leading 35-1 overall and finished unbeaten at 22-0 home this season.
Ferris State jumped out to an early lead and led 38-29 at halftime, but Findlay battled back and took a two-point lead with 7:56 remaining. Down the stretch, though, the Bulldogs made the big days and outscored UF 42-36 over the final 20 minutes to secure the homecourt win.
Senior guard Drew Cushingberry tallied a game-high 21 points and earned Midwest Regional Most Outstanding Player honors in leading FSU to the win. The Bulldogs also got a big performance off the bench from guard DeShaun Thrower, who finished with 20 points on seven-of-12 shooting.
Along with their performances, junior center Zach Hankins added 12 points and 12 boards along with three blocked shots. He also earned all-tourney honors along with senior forward Noah King.
Ferris State had to battle past a talented Findlay lineup led by standout forward Taren Sullivan, who finished with 16 points. He claimed all-tourney honors for the Oilers along with senior guard Martyce Kimbrough, but FSU was able to limit him to only six points on two-of-12 shooting in the regional final.
FSU shot at a 42.4% clip and hit seven-of-23 three's (30.4%) along with 17-of-22 (77.3%) free throws. The Bulldogs also outrebounded Findlay 49-35 and came up with 16 offensive rebounds, which led to a 13-6 margin in second chance scoring.
The Bulldogs limited Findlay to 38.9% shooting with the Oilers going four-of-26 (15.4%) and five-of-five (100.0%) at the stripe.
Ferris State hosted the D2 Midwest Regional for the first time in school history and will advance to the D2 Elite Eight for the second time and the first since 1988-89.
The win was FSU's second-straight over Findlay following a buzzer-beating win earlier this season in non-league action, but the first against the Oilers in national tournament play in three tries. UF had beat FSU in the 2005 regional final at Croy Gymnasium in Findlay.