Lakers roll SVSU, fall to Wayne State in OT
Junior guard Ryan Sabin slowly made his way out of the locker room with disbelief in his eyes and a team-high 43 minutes worth of sweat in his uniform — his valiant performance wasn’t enough.
Sabin’s 25-point afternoon came in a losing effort at the Fieldhouse Arena on Saturday, as the Grand Valley State University men’s basketball team was ultimately outmuscled in a 69-64 overtime loss to Wayne State University.
“It’s tough, it hurts, today hurts,” he said. “We had it, but they got too many and that’s what it came down to. It was our fault. We had some plays to make, we just didn’t make them.”
He pulled his weight by scoring 20 or more points for the third time in four games, but the other Laker starters combined to tally just eight points on 2-of-10 shooting from the field.
A pair of sophomores also highlighted a suddenly lackluster offense for GVSU off the bench, as forward Ricky Carbajal notched a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds while guard Darren Kapustka netted 12.
GVSU fell into a fifth-place tie in the overall GLIAC standings with the hiccup.
“It was a rough, ugly game,” head coach Ric Wesley said. “It was right from the start. Everything was rough and physical. We lost that battle. They have four seniors, big strong guys, and you could see our new guys really struggled. They were a little overwhelming for our first-year players.”
Whistle-happy officiating, stout defenses and uninspired offenses appeared to dictate the game. The teams combined to commit 49 personal fouls, and there seemed to be more loose-ball scrums than jump shots made.
Sabin, Carbajal and fifth-year senior Rob Woodson were the only Lakers to score in the first half. WSU didn’t exactly steal the show with its offense, but it held a 22-20 advantage at the break.
The second half seemingly yielded more loose balls, jump balls, fouls called and, to the eventual chagrin of the fans in attendance, even more free-throw attempts.
The Warriors shot 25-of-35 from the charity stripe, which was key down the stretch because the Lakers connected on just 15-of-26.
The 13.7 percent edge may have been the difference in the game.
“We didn’t make free throws,” Wesley said. “It was a close game, we had some free throws and we kept making one of two, one of two, one of two. We didn’t take advantage of the free throws that we got.”
It was particularly a factor in overtime when WSU scored 12 of its 17 points from the foul line.
Things went from bad to worse for the Lakers when a foul was called right in front of the GVSU bench. Wesley pleaded his case, but was given a technical foul with 2:53 to play in the five-minute overtime.
Wesley owned it after the game.
“It’s just a really tough loss when you give effort and you battle and you fall short — I’m disappointed,” he said. “I’m disappointed in myself for getting the technical, the first technical I’ve had this year. It didn’t help our cause. In a close game, all of those things matter.”
It was a head-scratching loss for the Lakers, especially considering how well they played on Thursday night at Saginaw Valley State University. GVSU never trailed and scored a season high in the 88-76 victory.
Sabin led the way with 20 points and was one of five Lakers to score in double figures. Freshman forward Trevin Alexander also had a big night with his first career double-double.
The team figures to strive for a more balanced scoring attack tonight in a rivalry game against the Bulldogs of Ferris State University.
“They don’t like us, we don’t like them,” Carbajal said. “It’s always a tough game. The records don’t matter. It’s going to be a rough, physical game, and hopefully we can bounce back and win that one.”
The teams are scheduled to tip off 8 p.m. as part of the “Blackout” promotion as the Lakers will wear new all-black jerseys. Fans are also encouraged to wear black.