JUST IN: Ferris State defeats Northern State in Division II national title game

A tip of the cap to the Ferris State Bulldogs, who took down Northern State (SD) 71-69 in the NCAA Division II men’s basketball championship to secure their first national title in the sport.

It was neck-and-neck for the entirety of the game. In fact, Ferris trailed 69-68 with less than two minutes to go before junior, D-II player of the year and Charlevoix product Zach Hankins poured in this short floater for the eventual game-winner.

Senior and former Godwin Heights standout Markese Mayfield converted on both free throw attempts with 10 seconds remaining, though one was disallowed due to a lane violation. That gave the Bulldogs a two-point cushion.

Northern State’s Darin Peterka had one last three-point attempt with just two seconds left but could not get it to fall. And then, the madness ensued.

Just how close of a game was it from start to finish? Neither team had a leader bigger than seven points, which both teams had at least once. Ferris did not actually take their first lead until there was 3:15 remaining in the first stanza, eventually carrying a 39-37 lead into the break. Their biggest advantage on the scoreboard came roughly midway through the second half before NSU charged back and turned it into a seesaw battle down the stretch.

The aforementioned Hankins led FSU in scoring with 19 points on 8/15 shooting from the floor, one of three Bulldogs in double-figures. Mayfield added 11 points with six rebounds, and senior Peter Firlik (Grand Rapids Catholic Central) chipped in with 12 points.

Both teams shot particularly well from the floor. Ferris as a team hit 47.3 percent of their field goal attempts; Northern State was slightly better at a 49.1 percent clip. Neither club did much damage from outside, just a combined 4/12 from three-point land between the two teams. The heavy inside presence did, however, generate plenty of freebie attempts. The Bulldogs and Wolves combined were 28/40 from the charity stripe.

The victory for Ferris was their 26th straight, giving them a 38-1 record on the year to match the all-time mark in wins in NCAA Division II men’s hoops. It is not only their first ever national championship in basketball, it’s their first ever title in any sport, men or women, as a NCAA program.