Woodson shines as Lakers rout Northwood
Sophomore Darren Kapustka. GVL / Emily Frye
The towel-draped starting lineup erupted from the bench as walk-on senior forward Joe Gurzick delivered the first bucket of his career — and the final blow of a 23-point thumping.
Gurzick and the Grand Valley State University men’s basketball team bounced back from their worst loss of the season on Saturday by pummeling Northwood University 94-71 at home to move back into a fifth-place tie in the overall conference standings.
“It was awesome,” said the first-year player from Richmond, Mich. “I wasn’t really thinking about it. I was just in the moment.”
GVSU was scoring at will all night long.
Fifth-year senior point guard Rob Woodson showed a complete disregard for the Northwood press and orchestrated the offense to the tune of 13 points, a career-high nine assists, five rebounds, zero turnovers and a steal.
Woodson’s nine helpers were the most by a Laker since 2006.
“He’s been phenomenal in the last few games,” Gurzick said. “He’s just been playing strong, taking it to the rack and really carrying our team.”
Woodson, who scored a career-high 24 points in the team’s 89-69 loss to No. 20 Lake Superior State University on Thursday, has dished 28 dimes and just six turnovers in his last five games. His 4.0 assists per contest now rank as the sixth highest in the conference.
The Timberwolves simply had no answer for his up-tempo offense. Five Lakers scored in double figures, and seven finished with more than seven points.
“He’s making great decisions with the ball,” head coach Ric Wesley said. “He’s picking his spots, knows when to score and knows when to dish. He’s been in a pretty good place all season but he’s certainly played even better here as of late.”
Junior guard Ryan Sabin and sophomore forward Ricky Carbajal both scored a team-high 14 points, and also played well defensively with seven combined steals.
Carbajal’s steal with 2:33 to play in the first half set up what appeared to be the dagger.
He intercepted a pass at the half-court line, took two right-handed dribbles and fired a bounce pass to a cutting freshman guard Luke Ryskamp who elevated for a two-handed dunk to the delight of more than 1,425.
The Lakers led 47-31 and never looked back.
“It was an up-and-down, free-flowing game,” Wesley said. “When it’s free flowing like that, everyone gets involved, and I thought our big guys were really running the floor well. They got some easy opportunities.”
Freshman forward Trevin Alexander chipped in with 12 points while junior forward Chaz Rollins added 11. The team’s top-four post players connected on 16-of-19 free-throw attempts.
GVSU also held a 13-0 advantage in fast-break points while its bench outscored Northwood’s reserves 44-16.
“I really feel like our offense is one of the hardest to defend in the conference,” Woodson said. “We don’t just have one or two people. They primarily focus on Sabin and try to limit his scoring but, if you do that, we still have people even off the bench who could be high scorers just like tonight.”
The scoring output was the team’s highest since December 2010 when it scored 101.
The Lakers will have three more regular-season chances to improve their rank in the conference tournament. The trio of remaining opponents has a combined GLIAC record of 20-35.
“If we’re clicking like that I feel like it’s very hard for teams to beat us,” he said. “I feel like we could beat anyone in the GLIAC. We already beat (LSSU) at home; they’re the number one team, and if we get a good standing in the conference tournament — we can make a run.”
GVSU will host its final home game of the season against Saginaw Valley State University on Thursday at 8 p.m.