Lakers split up-and-down UP road trip
Senior Rob Woodson lays up the ball against Olivet College defender Kevin Woodson GVL Archive / Mohamed Azuz
The Grand Valley State University men’s basketball team may have the hardworking defense it takes to compete for a GLIAC title, but its offense certainly has some work to do.
GVSU stymied Northern Michigan University in a 64-41 victory on Thursday night, but it sputtered two days later against a 2-3 zone at Michigan Technological University in a 69-54 loss, which ultimately placed both squads in a five-team logjam for second place in the overall GLIAC standings.
“It’s a disappointing end to a great trip,” head coach Ric Wesley said. “Our guys prepared well and played very well, but we couldn’t get it done. For the third week in a row we go 1-1, and ultimately we’ll have to win them both to continue. It’s a bunched up race, and it’s probably going to somewhat stay that way the whole season.”
The Lakers and their “play team defense and generate offense by committee” game plan did, however, get the job done against NMU at the Berry Events Center in Marquette, Mich.
GVSU limited the Wildcats to 41 points on 18-of-55 shooting and just 3-of-20 from beyond the arc.
Freshman forward Trevin Alexander came off the bench to lead the way for the Lakers with 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting and was one of four Lakers to score in double figures. Junior guard Ryan Sabin chipped in with 11 points while junior forward Chaz Rollins and freshman guard Luke Ryskamp added 10. Rollins also had a team-high six rebounds.
“Our team is right where we want to be with everyone in their roles,” fifth-year senior point guard Rob Woodson said. “We’re learning how to play together. We just have to keep picking up our play. We’re a unique team. Any of our guys can get it going and be the main scorer each game.”
GVSU connected on 8-of-16 from long range but was unable to sustain that momentum after traveling more than 100 miles north to Houghton, Mich.
The Lakers got into a 3-point shooting contest at the Student Development Complex Gymnasium but couldn’t keep up against the nation’s best 3-point shooting team.
The Huskies shot 9-of-21 from beyond the arc while the Lakers made just 8-of-30.
MTU was leading a close 30-27 game with less than a minute to play in the first half, but it seemed to take control after scoring the next seven points.
“That kind of was the game,” Wesley said. “We were fighting to get back over that hump and never found a way to get consistently score.”
GVSU attempted to mount a comeback, but its sharpshooters weren’t exactly in the zone against the 2-3 zone. They missed 13 second-half threes.
MTU, also the nation’s top free-throw shooting team, hit all 10 of its attempts from the charity stripe while the Lakers shot 12-of-20.
“They came out shooting,” sophomore forward Ricky Carbajal said. “We knew they had shooters, but they hit a lot and we couldn’t hit anything. Some days they fall and some days they won’t.”
Carbajal had a team-high 11 points, while Sabin and junior center Darren Washington added eight.
The Lakers were able to limit senior guard Austin Armga to a season-low 15 points but surrendered six triples to guards Ben Stelzer and Alex Culy, who combined to tally 24 points.
“We’re a little down right now, but we can’t keep this game in our heads because we have a big game Thursday,” Carbajal said. “Our conference is very good, but there is no team that dominates. We have to be focused and more determined to win and have a different outcome.”
GVSU will have an opportunity to claim a share of first place in the conference standings against the GLIAC’s top team, Lake Superior State University, at the Fieldhouse Arena on Thursday at 8 p.m.