REGIONAL REVIEW: REMARKABLE RUN ENDS IN SWEET SIXTEEN
Bulldog Women's Basketball Advanced To Great Lakes Regional Final For First Time
Prior to this year (2006-07), the Ferris State University women's basketball team had never won a NCAA Division II Tournament game in the program's 33-year history despite making two previous national tourney appearances.
The third time was the charm, however, for the Bulldogs as they advanced to the NCAA Division II Great Lakes Regional Tournament Championship Game for the first time in school history with a remarkable run to the Sweet Sixteen at Lewis University' Neil Carey Arena in Romeoville, Ill. Ferris fell a game shy of advancing to the NCAA-II Elite Eight for the first time with a disappointing 79-69 setback against Drury (Mo.) in Monday's (March 12) regional final.
Ferris State concluded the year with a school-best 23-9 overall record this campaign under ninth-year head coach Tracey Bloodworth-Fisk.
"We've made a great run this season and had a good year," senior guard Kristin Reinhart said. "We fought hard tonight, and although we're disappointed with the outcome, it was a nice way to go out."
After earning the program's third NCAA-II Tournament bid, the seventh-seeded Bulldogs upset number two seed Northern Kentucky in Friday's (March 9) quarterfinals at Neil Carey Arena 70-69 as sophomore guard Teghan Thelen (Pewamo/Westphalia) grabbed a loose ball underneath the basket and converted a layup off the glass as the final buzzer sounded to give FSU the one-point win and its first-ever NCAA Tournament victory.
The momentum from Friday's buzzer-beating quarterfinal triumph fueled the Bulldogs in Saturday's (March 10) semifinal round as Ferris bolted out to a 16-point halftime advantage versus sixth-seeded Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) foe Gannon. The Knights battled back to trim the deficit to only four points with 5:32 to go, but FSU knocked down some clutch free throws down the stretch to pull out a 80-61 win and reach the regional title game for the first time in the program's history.
The Bulldogs fought back from a nine-point deficit with 15 minutes left against Drury in Monday's championship game and took a 58-55 advantage with six minutes to go before the Panthers went on a 14-4 run to seize control. DU was appearing in its fourth regional final in the last five years while the Bulldogs made their first-ever appearance in the NCAA-II Sweet Sixteen.
""We're extremely disappointed because we had such a big opportunity," said Bloodworth-Fisk. "I'm not disappointed in our effort, but we didn't play as well as we could have.
"We hadn't been here before and they had so I think experience played a large role."
In addition to the program's school-record 23 victories, Ferris State also advanced to the GLIAC Tournament for the eighth consecutive season and recorded its 11th-straight campaign with 10 or more victories this year. Ferris posted a second-place tying 13-5 mark in conference regular-season action this season and won 18 games or more for the third time in the last four years to date.
"I'm proud of our kids and what they accomplished both this season and in the regional tournament," Bloodworth-Fisk said. "They never hung their heads when they got down and kept battling.
"It's the first-time we've ever been in this situation and our seniors set a great tradition for us, which hopefully we can continue to build upon."
Reinhart, senior forward Audrey Thwing (Davison) and senior guard Erin Miller (Niles) all concluded their collegiate eligibility for Ferris this season. Miller, who ranks second all-time on the school's career scoring chart, missed the final four postseason games this season due to an injury.
Both Reinhart and junior forward Rachel Folcik (Powers/Carney-Nadeau) were among the five all-tournament team selections recognized after the Bulldogs' remarkable run to the regional finals.