GVSU men's basketball manages win over Grace Bible despite defensive lapses

By Robbie Triano | 11/20/17 1:24am

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GVL / Matt Read GVSU Basketball takes on Grace for their second home game of the season.

In the world of sports, there are results known as “good wins” and “good losses” depending on how each team played.

Although the Grand Valley State men’s basketball team (3-1 overall) defeated the Grace Bible College Tigers (4-4) by a seemingly dominate 88-74 final score Thursday, Nov. 16, the mood with the coaching staff and players defined their performance as a "bad win."

"This wasn't a great performance for us," said GVSU head coach Ric Wesley. "It was definitely a disappointing win for us."

A major point of that reasoning revolved around GVSU’s perimeter defense, which allowed the Tigers to connect on 16 total 3-pointers during the contest at a 46 percent clip. That poor defensive showing was most apparent in the second half, as Grace Bible chipped away at GVSU’s largest lead of 18 to make it a 2-point game with seven minutes left in the contest.

The Lakers were caught off guard early by the shooting threat of Grace Bible, as the Tigers hit five 3-pointers within the first six minutes of the game. After the Tigers took their first timeout, GVSU head coach Ric Wesley had one point of emphasis for his defense during the break.

“Guard somebody,” Wesley said. “I mean, we just had to guard someone because we weren’t doing that very well. It’s one thing if a team makes a shot or two, but once a team gets going, you have got to change the rhythm. Our defensive focus wasn’t really good.”

The short timeout speech seemed to pay off, as the Lakers held Grace Bible scoreless to go on a 20-0 run over a seven-minute stretch, taking a 35-17 lead with 7:23 remaining in the first half. Steals by seniors Myles Miller and Chris Dorsey sparked the Lakers' transition offense, which has been their bread and butter so far this season.

By the end of the first half, the Lakers walked into the locker room up 47-36 after the early scare. Despite the early criticism, the Laker offense and rebounding caught fire, as the team shot six of 10 from the 3-point line and 55 percent of their total shots. With their size, the Lakers collected 23 rebounds, compared to Grace Bible’s 13.

Paving the way in the first half was junior guard/forward Zach West, who collected 10 points and six rebounds to lead the Lakers in both categories. Sophomore Lance Dollison also scored 10 points and made two 3-pointers.

But Grace Bible continued the fight, as their point guard Brandon Winchester-Jones carried the offensive load with 13 points and three assists in the second half. Grace Bible hit eight of their 16 attempts from beyond the arc in the second half.

“Winchester-Jones played exceptional,” Wesley said. “Him and the rest of their players just hit their shots. It was as simple as that.”

With Grace Bible chipping away at the Laker lead, the team took advantage with their athleticism inside and on offensive rebounds. GVSU collected 13 offensive rebounds in the second half, with five of them coming from senior center Drake Baar and three of them from West. Although he was pleased with his team’s rebounding success, Wesley knew there was an underlying factor to the production.

“Well, if you miss enough, there are plenty of offensive rebounds to get,” Wesley said. “We were a little bit more athletic (than Grace Bible), so I don’t think there’s anything special from what we did.”

The Lakers began feeding Baar inside the paint, and he accepted the task by leading the team with 10 second-half points.

But when it came down to the last five minutes of competition, the Lakers began pulling away offensively until they achieved the 88-74 final score. With the win, the Lakers collected their third of the season in four games. However, the win still pointing flaws in the Laker defense, and Zach West, who finished with a double-double (14 points, 13 rebounds), wasn't afraid to be the one to say it.

“We needed to pick up the intensity of the defensive side of things,” West said. “Whether it was our closeouts or being in the gaps too long, it’s clear that moving forward we have to clean things up on the defensive end.”

Other Laker standouts included Baar (14 points, six rebounds); Chris Dorsey (12 points, two steals); Lance Dollison (12 points); and Hunter Hale (11 points, four assists, two blocks).

The Lakers will now head to the Sunshine State of Florida to compete in the Barry Invitational against Lynn University on Friday, Nov. 24, and Barry University on Saturday, Nov. 25. Although the trip will bring much warmer conditions, it will also mean that they will be on the road instead being at home for Thanksgiving.

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