GVSU men's hoops manages win in road trip
Lakers come back against Northern Michigan, fall to Michigan Tech
Playing in its fourth and fifth games in 10 days, the Grand Valley State men’s basketball team had to battle Northern Michigan, Michigan Tech and fatigue.
The Lakers (15-8, 9-8 GLIAC) salvaged a split on their Upper Peninsula trip, topping NMU 70-59 on Feb. 4, before a furious rally fell just short in a 90-86 loss to MTU on Feb. 6.
"We just came out of the gate not ready to play when we should have and that's basically what controlled the rest of the game," said junior Luke Ryskamp. "We fought our way back but the hole was too deep to get out of."
GVSU, which is fighting for a spot in the GLIAC tournament as the season winds down, saw a likely win slipping away in the first half against the Wildcats. NMU (6-14, 4-12 GLIAC) surprised GVSU, sprinting out to a 33-27 lead at halftime.
The Lakers flipped the script in the second half, and then some, outscoring NMU 43-26 over the final 20 minutes to secure a must-have conference win.
"First half we weren't ready to play, came out flat," said Trevin Alexander. "The second half we stepped up our defensive intensity and went on a run and came out with the W."
Balanced team scoring, as has become commonplace for GVSU, was once again the key to success on Feb. 4. Seniors Ricardo Carbajal and Aaron Hayes paced GVSU with 14 points, as Ryskamp and Alexander added 12 and 11, respectively.
NMU, which shot 46.1 percent in the first half, cooled off significantly, hitting just 8-of-25 shots in the second half for a 32 percent team effort. The Lakers, by contrast, followed up a 33.3 percent effort in the first half with a 48.3 percent showing in the second.
GVSU also hit 7-of-16 3-pointers, while the Wildcats knocked down just 6-of-23. GVSU won the rebounding battle with 37 boards to NMU’s 30, as Alexander pulled down nine to lead the Lakers.
Senior guard Darren Kapustka did Darren Kapustka things, dishing out seven assists and committing just one turnover.
In the second game of the northern endeavor, GVSU ran into a blistering hot pair of MTU freshmen. Kyle Monroe and guard Bryan Heath torched the Lakers to the tune of 47 combined points in a 90-86 Husky win.
The Lakers again started the game in sluggish fashion, but in this edition of the Upper Peninsula matchups, the slow start was too much for GVSU to make up. MTU rushed out to a 7-0 lead, and a combination of strong Husky shooting and weak Laker shooting led to a quick 30-15 lead for MTU.
"They played very well early, really shot the ball well," said GVSU head coach Ric Wesley. "I didn't think our defensive focus was very good to start the game. We let their best player come have his way with us in the first half. I just don't think we had the defensive energy and focus we needed to start the game."
MTU's best player, Monroe, dropped 16 points in the first half before finishing with 22 points on 6-of-12 shooting. The Lakers faced a 45-28 deficit at the end of the first half, but came out in the second stanza with an offensive explosion of 58 points -- a tie for the most points scored in a GVSU half this season (vs. Olivet Nov. 20).
GVSU fell down by as many as 23 points and never led in the game. The second-half comeback was paced by Hayes, who scored a team-high 21 points for the Lakers on 4-of-9 shooting, and 12-of-14 from the free throw line.
Senior Chaz Rollins added 16 points and eight rebounds, while MTU's Heath had a game-high 25 points on 6-of-13 shooting, including five 3-pointers.
MTU (9-12, 8-9 GLIAC) shot an even 50 percent as a team from the floor, and 52.2 percent from beyond the arc. The Huskies also made 34-of-37 free throws. GVSU shot 45.6 percent, but just 29.2 percent from 3-point range.
The Lakers will return home for a matchup against Lake Superior State on Feb. 11, before hitting the road for a tilt against Northwood on Feb. 13.