The Ferris State men's basketball team completed its history-making season at Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, S.D. on Saturday afternoon, surviving a thrilling DII Men's Basketball Championship game to beat Northern State 71-69.
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It was a close game from start to finish. Northern State, running on fumes after a double overtime victory in the semifinals, was impressively able to keep up with the fast-paced Bulldogs offense for the entire game. The Wolves were fearless and went right at Ferris State, attacking the Bulldogs' 6-10 big man Zach Hankins all game. Northern State won the points-in-the-paint battle in the first half 28-24 thanks in large part to the energetic play of Logan Doyle and near-perfect shooting performance from Carter Evans. Ferris State went into the half with a narrow 39-37 lead.
NATIONAL CHAMPIONS! pic.twitter.com/3y2TvpsBLF— Ferris Athletics (@ferrisathletics) March 24, 2018
The two teams went blow for blow in the second half. Neither team relented and played to a 32-32 tie in the final 20 minutes of play. Northern State's Darin Peterka had a chance as time expired, but missed the long 3. Ferris State held on, earning its first national championship in school history.
It was a championship game that gave the standing room only crowd everything it could ask for and more. Hankins, the DII national player of the year, led all Bulldogs with 19 points. Markese Mayfield put in an incredible performance for Ferris State with a team-leading six rebounds, each one seeming bigger than the last. The Wolves' Carter Evans led all scorers with 20 points on an incredible 10-for-14 shooting. The two teams, despite playing different styles of basketball, were evenly matched. There were six lead changes and a near buzzer-beater. It was simply Ferris State's time.
The Bulldogs tied a DII record with their 38th win of the season. The small school from Big Rapids is now the first school from Michigan to win a DII basketball title.
The DII men's basketball season is in the books. Ferris State won its last 26 games of the season, including the 71-69 finale in Sioux Falls. The Bulldogs can finally say they are national champions.
Be sure to scroll down below for all of the highlights from the DII Men's Elite Eight.