The Ferris State University men's basketball squad advanced to the NCAA Division II National Semifinals for the first time in school history as the Bulldogs pulled out a 87-84 triumph over Barry (Fla.) in the D2 Elite Eight quarterfinals on Tuesday (March 20) at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, S.D.
FSU led from start to finish, but had to hold off a hard-charging Barry team down the stretch while improving to a nation-leading 36-1 overall. The victory was FSU's 24th-straight to date this year, which also leads the country.
With the win, top-seeded Ferris State will now face fourth-seeded West Texas A&M in the national semifinals on Thursday (March 22) with tipoff set for 7 p.m. (ET) in Sioux Falls. The national title game is on Saturday (March 24) at 3 p.m. (ET).
Ferris State took an early lead in the win over the Buccaneers and built a 15-point advantage with 8:12 to go in the first half. However, Barry rallied and trimmed the margin to 39-37 at the break.
However, despite staying close in the game, Barry never could get over the hump and never led in the contest. FSU seized control early in the second frame and held on down the stretch to pull out the triumph.
Senior guard Drew Cushingberry had a big day for the Bulldogs with a game-high 20 points on six-of-11 shooting, including knocking down three treys in the win. Fellow senior wing Peter Firlik added 18 points and went eight-of-12 from the floor.
The Bulldogs also got 15 points and 11 rebounds with three blocks from junior All-America center Zach Hankins. Finally, FSU's DeShaun Thrower also reached double-digits with 11 points in the win.
Ferris State shot 49.2% overall for the game and went seven-of-21 (33.3%) from downtown along with 16-of-26 (61.5%) at the line. Barry finished shooting 40.9% from the floor and hit eight-of-25 (32%) from long range in addition to 75.9% (22-29) at the stripe.
Barry was paced by Daniel Mortensen, who finished with a team-high 17 points. Standout guard Elvar Fridriksson added 16 points with Evan Walshe contributing 13 points.
The Bulldogs outrebounded BU 40-39 for the game and both teams totaled nine turnovers. FSU also had six blocked shots and three steals with 18 assists, including four each from both Markese Mayfield and Cushingberry.
Meanwhile, Barry totaled four steals and 14 assists with no blocks in the game. Bu held a 16-9 margin in second chance scoring against FSU and both teams totaled 36 points inside the paint.
In addition to the four players in double-digits, the Bulldogs also got eight points from Mayfield and seven from senior wing Noah King.
Barry closed its season with a 23-9 overall record.
Ferris State is making its first NCAA Division II Elite Eight appearance in 30 years with the only other trip to school history to the national quarterfinals coming in 1988. FSU had never advanced to the semifinals prior to Tuesday's win.
Thursday night's game will be carried live by local flagship station Sunny 97.3 FM and the Bulldog Sports Network at FerrisStateBulldogs.com. It will also be televised nationally by CBS Sports Network.