Ferris State men's hoops charges into DII Final Four

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Add another couple F’s to Ferris — as in Final Four.

The Ferris State men’s basketball team jumped out to a big lead early and then withstood several charges before securing an 87-84 victory over Barry University in a Division II quarterfinal game Tuesday at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, S.D.

The Bulldogs, 36-1 on the season and winners of 24 straight, will play in the national semifinals, in the same place, at 7 Thursday against West Texas A&M.

A&M beat Le Moyne, 87-73, earlier Tuesday. Le Moyne is coached by Patrick Beilein, son of Michigan coach John Beilein.

For Ferris State, this will be its first-ever trip to the Final Four. It made one previous Elite Eight.

“It was a good feeling,” Ferris State coach Andy Bronkema said over the phone Tuesday night, while waiting in line for a burger. “But everybody here wants to win the national championship.

“That’ll be a good feeling. Let’s try and do that.”

Senior guard Drew Cushingberry led Ferris State with 20 points, including back-to-back 3-pointers early — both from well beyond the NBA 3-point line, which caused a lot of confusion for both teams — as the Bulldogs raced out to a 15-point lead.

But Barry (23-9), a university located in Miami Shores, Fla., settled down, forced some turnovers, made some shots of its own and whittled the deficit to two at halftime, 39-37.

More:Ferris State closes in on DII national championship

Top-seeded Ferris State led wire to wire, but it was close all second half.

No. 8 seed Barry trailed by three late so Bronkema ordered the foul, and Barry missed both free throws.

Then, on its last trip to the line, Ferris State got a fortunate bounce on a missed rebound, and an offensive rebound by junior center Zach Hankins to put the game away for good.

Bronkema said he wasn’t panicking when he watched his team’s big lead fade away.

“You watch these teams on film and you gain a respect for them,” he said. “So you don’t really freak out when they make those kinds of plays.

“That’s why they’re here.”

Senior wing Peter Firlik added 18 points for Ferris State, and Hankins had 15 to go with 11 rebounds. Junior guard DeShaun Thrower scored 11.

Johannes Dolven and Daniel Mortensen scored 17 for Barry.