Kapustka, Lakers open GLIAC play with pair of exciting wins
Men’s basketball team erases 20-point deficit to beat Ashland, edges Lake Erie with 12 seconds left
It hasn’t been easy, but the Grand Valley State University men’s basketball team is 5-0 for the first time since the 2008-2009 season.
GVSU began GLIAC play with a big 65-62 comeback victory over Ashland University on Thursday night before taking down Lake Erie College in the final 12 seconds for an 84-80 win on Saturday afternoon at the Fieldhouse Arena.
“It feels good to be 5-0, but we’ve got a long way to go,” sophomore guard Darren Kapustka said. “We know it’s early, and we’ve got a lot of work to do.”
It took a while for GVSU to get to work against Ashland while playing in a home away from home.
The game, played at Grand Rapids Community College’s Gerald R. Ford Fieldhouse, was dominated by the Eagles in the first half.
Ashland buried 10 3-pointers and led 33-13 with 6:56 to play before heading into the locker room with a 42-26 advantage.
“We stayed confident the whole time,” Kapustka said. “The guys got me open in the second half, I got some good looks at the hoop, and they just fell. It got our team going — and we just kept playing.”
He recorded a career-high 16 points on 4-of-7 shooting from beyond the arc, and 13 of those points came in the second.
The Grand Rapids, Mich., native also racked up four assists, three steals and three rebounds, and he forced a crucial turnover in the final seconds to help the Lakers close out the game on a 26-4 run after switching to a 2-3 zone.
“That was a great comeback,” junior guard Ryan Sabin said. “I had a feeling. There was a point in the second half where I just knew we were going to win the game. We had some momentum, our guys were playing well, and (Kapustka) was phenomenal. He gave us a spark, and our defense carried us.”
Sabin finished with 12 points and three assists.
The Laker backcourt came up big once again on Saturday afternoon against Lake Erie.
The Storm, who had stayed within striking distance in the second half, finally tied the game up at 80 apiece with a pair of triples from freshman forward Michael Morris in the final minute.
Kapustka then caught the inbounds pass with 12 seconds to play and was immediately fouled by LEC sophomore guard Andy Bosley.
“I was shocked,” he said. “They fouled me and it was a tie game. … I think he thought it was a two-pointer.”
The mishap resulted in a pair of Kapustka free throws, and after GVSU got another stop, he sealed it with two more with one second left on the clock.
Sabin notched a game-high and career-high 22 points in the victory while chipping in with six helpers, four rebounds and two steals. Kapustka finished with 14 points, while senior point guard Rob Woodson added 13 points, four assists and a pair of steals.
“We’re just clicking,” Sabin said of the backcourt’s performance. “We’re all good friends off the floor. I know where DK is at all times, he knows where I am at all times, and Rob knows where we’re at. He’s a great point guard. The big thing is chemistry.”
GVSU had issues with its perimeter defense in the pair of victories, though. It surrendered 30 3-pointers.
Still, big things could be in store this season if the team continues to find a way to get it done late in games.
“We’re just going to take a deep breath and get through exams,” head coach Ric Wesley said. “We’ll regroup and get ready for this next trip and move forward. We’re just fortunate that we won these two games.”
The team will head to Ohio for a pair of GLIAC contests at Tiffin University on Sunday at 4 p.m. and Ohio Dominican University on Tuesday at 8 p.m.