Slow start, GVSU struggles for recovery
GVL / Robert Mathews
Sophomore Ryan Majerle
For one of the first times this year, the Grand Valley State University men’s basketball team dug themselves a hole they couldn’t dig their way out of.
GVSU (15-6, 12-5 GLIAC) has made a habit of making comebacks or strong runs in the second half, but a 34-13 halftime deficit to Michigan Tech University proved to be too much for the Lakers, and Michigan Tech (15-6, 12-5 GLIAC) came away with a 69-51 victory.
“We were sort of off our game right from the start,” said head coach Ric Wesley. “They came out and really got it going on us in the first half. We just had a number of careless mistakes, missed a couple open shots. Meanwhile, they were just on fire. Next thing we know, we’re playing from a big deficit.”
The loss marked the first time that the Lakers were defeated by double digits this season. GVSU only managed six field goals in the first half, shooting 6-of-19 in the first half.
“I didn’t think our ball movement was great in the first half,” Wesley said. “Our post-ups weren’t in there deep enough. We just didn’t get opportunities. The few good opportunities we had, we didn’t take advantage of them. We missed the open shot, or didn’t hit the open man at the right time. In the meantime, they were scoring, so we didn’t get a chance to get any fast break points as well. Next thing you know, we really struggled to manufacture points.”
With a plethora of injuries to their frontline, and foul trouble for senior Tyrone Lee and freshman Ricardo Carbajal, the Lakers had difficulties trying to contain GLIAC leading scorer and rebounder, senior Ali Haidar, who tallied 20 points and nine rebounds.
“We’re shorthanded now anyway on the frontline as it is,” Wesley said. “It’s hard for us to compete with a team that has a guy like Ali Hadair, without our starters being able to play and defend aggressively. Both of them had one silly foul in the first half. We need them to be a little bit more disciplined and not pick up those silly fouls.”
GVSU previously defeated Michigan Tech 70-65 in Allendale. Both Michigan Tech and GVSU are tied for second in the GLIAC at 12-5, a game and a half behind Wayne State University, who sits at 13-3.
Only one Laker scored in double figures, as sophomore Ryan Majerle tallied ten points in the loss.
We just didn’t execute like we did earlier in the year when we played against them,” Majerle said. “We struggled both on offense and defense. It was one of our worst games on the year as a team. You can’t take a night off in the GLIAC. We didn’t come to play today. We need to get back at it at practice and get back on the horse.”
On Thursday, it was a different story for GVSU as they used a 17-1 run in the second half to defeat Northern Michigan University (10-11, 9-8 GLIAC) 64-56. Carbajal led the Lakers with 15 points and five rebounds.
“I just think our defense was strong,” Wesley said. “We picked them up in the full court and were able to turn them over. We got some breakouts. Our defense created some transition opportunities and they didn’t have a chance to get their defense set. That’s what you hope for. When you get those, it certainly makes your offense a lot easier and our defense was working strong that night.”
GVSU will return to action on Thursday, when they host Lake Superior State University at 6 p.m. With only five games remaining in the season, GVSU looks to regroup after losing three of their last four games.
“We’re still one of the top teams in the conference, so we can’t get down,” said senior Tony Peters. “We just gotta learn from our loss and keep moving forward. Our mentality going forward is to stay focused more than anything.”