The Bulldogs, who were making their first-ever national semifinal appearance, built a 17-point lead in the second half and withstood a late charge from the Buffs to reach the national championship game on Saturday. The contest begins at 3 p.m. and will be televised live by CBS.
With Thursday's win, FSU became only the second team ever from the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) to reach the national championship game and improved to 37-1 on the year. The 37 wins are the second-most in Division II history and FSU can match the all-time mark of 38 wins set by Winona State with a victory on Saturday.
Ferris State built a 41-35 halftime lead in the first meeting against West Texas A&M and pushed the advantage to double-digits early in the second half. FSU also withstood foul trouble against All-America center Zach Hankins and hit enough crucial free throws down the stretch to put the game away.
The Bulldogs got a team-high 16 points, 10 rebounds and five assists from senior guard Drew Cushingberry along with 13 points and 11 boards by Hankins. Senior guard Peter Firlik added 12 points with senior wing Noah King chipping in 11 points overall.
West Texas A&M fought back late behind the play of standout guard David Chavlovich, who finished with a game-high 33 points on 12-of-26 shooting. They trimmed the margin back to a single possession late before FSU finished off the win. The Buffs also got 21 points and 13 boards from big man Ryan Quaid, who hit four three's in the setback.
Ferris State shot 43% overall and made 8-of-21 (38.1 percent) three's along with 19-of-26 (73.1 percent) free throws. Meanwhile, West Texas A&M hit 10-of-26 (38.5 percent) from downtown and went 19-of-23 (82.6 percent) at the line, but finished shooting only 35.2 percent from the floor.
FSU held a 49-42 rebounding edge overall and came away with 11 offensive boards in the game. Ferris State also outscored the opponents 38-24 inside the paint and 14-11 on the break.
The Bulldogs had another big performance off the bench as FSU tallied 26 points from its reserves to only nine for West Texas A&M. All 11 Bulldog players who saw action scored in the contest with eight scoring five or more points in the balanced effort.
Overall, Ferris State led for more than 38 minutes of the game while improving to 17-13 all-time in national tournament action.
West Texas A&M finished its season with a 32-4 overall record.
The nation's top-seeded Bulldogs will face either second-seeded Queens (North Carolina) or third-seeded Northern State (South Dakota) on Saturday in Sioux Falls in the school's first D2 National Championship game appearance in men's basketball. FSU is seeking the school's first-ever national title in a team sport.
Fans can watch Saturday's title game on CBS or listen to the live radio broadcast on Sunny 97.3 FM and the Bulldog Sports Network online at FerrisStateBulldogs.com with a special one-hour pregame show starting at 2 p.m.
— By Ferris State Athletic Department