GVSU Women's basketball erases early 17-point deficit to defeat Wayne State
GVL / Jessica Hollenbeck
Sometimes it’s not how you start, but how you finish.
The Grand Valley State University women’s basketball team proved that adage to be true on Saturday against GLIAC North leading Wayne State University.
Trailing 25-8 with eight minutes remaining in the first half, it appeared as if the Lakers would lose their second game in three nights. Instead the GVSU (18-7, 14-7 GLIAC) women’s basketball team rallied on a 20-5 run from the 3:26 mark in the first half, to the opening minutes of the second half to get within two points, and eventually overtook Wayne State (18-6, 16-4 GLIAC) by a final score of 61-58.
“It was a gutsy, composed game that we were able to fight through,” said head coach Janel Burgess. “It showed great courage of us to keep battling and we ended up finishing strong at the end.”
On the strength of a 12-3 run toward the end of the first half, the Lakers would cut the deficit in half and go into halftime only trailing by eight, with a score of 22-30.
“We started rebounding and started to contain penetration, which really helped us close the gap,” Burgess said. “Going to the 2-3 zone really helped us as well.”
GVSU carried their momentum from the end of the first half into the second half. The Lakers made it a point to get off to a better start compared to their start in the first half.
“We came out in the second half aggressive,” said junior Dani Crandall. “It all started with the hustle plays and we just played off of that.”
Battling back and forth throughout the entire second half, the Lakers finally turned the corner with five minutes remaining and took their first lead of the night, 52-51.
“In the beginning of the game we just couldn’t hit shots,” said senior Briauna Taylor. “We knew we just had to keep getting rebounds, all the loose balls, and eventually we would start hitting our shots.”
With GVSU trailing, Crandall came through for GVSU and hit a three right next to the Lakers bench, to take the lead back 60-58 with a minute left.
“My mind was pretty clear,” Crandall said. “To be honest, I didn’t even know what the score was and how big of a shot that was until after I made it. When you’re in the moment, sometimes you just don’t think about it.”
The Lakers buckled down on defense in the last 60 seconds and held Wayne State scoreless, winning the game 61-58. A much needed win coming off of an ugly 71-61 lose to rival Saginaw Valley State University earlier in the week.
“We really held our composure and stayed tough on defense,” Burgess said.
Briauna Taylor led the enthusiastic comeback for the Lakers as she posted 23 points and a career-high 14 rebounds.
“(Briauna Taylor) played outstanding,” Crandall said. “You know, we all think she is one of the best, if not the best player in the GLIAC, she really played like it tonight.”
Sophomore Daina Grazulis sparked GVSU off the bench, helping the Lakers cause as she tallied 12 points, including a perfect 2-of-2 from three-point range.
“She came in and did some great things,” Burgess said. “She had three huge blocks in key moments of the game.”
GVSU will hope to carry the momentum from this big win next weekend when they host rival Ferris State University in the final game of the regular season on Saturday at 8 p.m.