Laker women bury 10 threes to best FSU
Dani Crandall (senior) approaches Wayne State’s defensive line in an effort to score yet another basket for the Lakers.GVL / Hannah Mico.
‘Omne trium perfectum’ is a latin phrase that suggests every set of three is not only complete, but more satisfying than other numbers of things — that everything that comes in threes is perfect.
The Grand Valley State University women’s basketball team wasn’t perfect in a 67-50 Monday night victory against arch-rival Ferris State University, but perhaps the game proved the Romans were onto something.
GVSU’s defense played in accordance to the game’s promotional billing as a “Blackout” and allowed a season-low 50 points.
“One of our biggest truths this season has been when our defense is working for us, then our offense is working for us,” senior Dani Crandall said. “We got a great performance from everybody that was involved in the game, and I think we played our best 40 minutes as a team, top to bottom, that we have this entire season.”
FSU was limited to three 3-pointers on the night in 12 attempts and shot 19-for-54 (35.2 percent) from the field.
GVSU’s offense tallied a collective 16 assists and shot 10-for-20 from 3-point in the game, including six treys in the second half. Three Lakers — freshman guard Taylor Lutz, junior point guard Meryl Cripe and Crandall — each logged 30 minutes or more and combined to dish out 14 assists.
“It’s nice to make shots, but it’s also nice that as we approach the end of the season, that we know each other well enough to know who’s hot at the right time,” Cripe said. “Kat (LaPrairie) was hot and she knocked down some huge shots. Jill (Steinmetz) hit a couple and she’s been consistently doing that, which is awesome for our team, and when we find those shooters, they’re shooting the ball with great confidence.”
While the lady Lakers remind themselves regularly that Rome was not built in a day, they might also reflect upon what could be their most complete victory of the season and the rule and role of “three” in it.
“There’s a lot of great emotions that go with that rivalry game, and I thought we brought our best effort to it,” head coach Janel Burgess said. “We’ve been striving to put together a full 40 minutes as a team, and this was the closest we’ve come all year to doing just that, which means we’re getting better.”
In three games leading up to Monday’s showdown, GVSU went 0-3 starting with a 73-64 defeat at Northwood University, then a 91-79 defeat at Saginaw Valley State University, followed by a 78-76 last-second loss against Wayne State University.
It was fitting, then, that GVSU put a stop to the three-game skid in the first of three games to be played this week between Feb. 3 and Feb. 8 with a 3-pointer.
LaPrairie scored 12 points on 4-for-8 shooting from 3-point and helped the Lakers out to a 7-2 lead by sinking two triples within the first six minutes and 30 seconds of play.
FSU responded with a 9-2 run to capture the third lead change of the game, but it would be its last.
Steinmetz, a sophomore center for GVSU, struck from the 3-point to put the Lakers up for good shortly thereafter.
“We had some great ball movement, which allowed us to find open teammates and make each other look and feel better by creating open opportunities,” Burgess said.
The Lakers carried a three-point lead into the locker rooms up 25-22 but connected on back-to-back 3-pointers from LaPrairie and Lutz just 38 seconds into the second half to give GVSU a 31-25 advantage.
More than three minutes later, sophomore guard Bailey Cairnduff, Steinmetz and freshman forward Piper Tucker scored three more 3-pointers in succession — each in the span of one minute — to extend the Laker lead to 42-33.
Then, at the three-minute mark, Lutz completed a three-point play the hard way by sinking both a contested layup and the ensuing free throw before passing the ball through the lane from her knees, Curly Neal style, to assist freshman forward Kayla Dawson in completing her own old-fashioned three-point play.
Dawson’s free throw put GVSU up 61-43, and the Lakers went on to lead by as many as 19 points before the final whistle blew.
It was the Lakers’ third victory in a row against the Bulldogs.
“Our consistency was much better on both ends of the court,” Burgess said. “We took care of the ball, used tempo to our advantage both when we had open transition opportunities and, more importantly, when we needed to pull it back a little bit to make sure we got the offensive sets we wanted.”
Dawson paced GVSU with 14 points and a game-high 10 rebounds to record the second double-double of her collegiate career. It was also the fourth double-double by a Laker since Jan. 24.
Lutz added 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting and dished out four assists, Cripe paced GVSU with six assists to go along with eight points, and Crandall added six rebounds and four assists to go with three points.
“We just have to keep pushing for more,” Burgess said. “This was a good game for us in many respects, but we can still be more consistent. We can still play a better 40 minutes of basketball, and that’s what we’ll look to do in our next two upcoming games.”
GVSU (10-9, 8-7 GLIAC) is now 6-1 at home and will host Northern Michigan University (12-7, 9-6 GLIAC) Thursday and Michigan Technological University (15-4, 13-2 GLIAC) Saturday to round out the week.
The Lakers lost to NMU 81-66 and to MTU 76-54 in their trip to the Upper Peninsula in December.
“It’s an opportunity, not for revenge, but for redemption,” Crandall said. “Any team in the GLIAC is capable of beating any other team in the GLIAC by almost any margin on any given night — that’s been proven this season, but the way we’ve been playing the last couple games, if we keep this ball rolling, then I think the next couple games and the rest of the season will take care of itself as far as wins and losses go.”