Myles Miller, GVSU men's basketball split weekend series on Ohio road trip
Riding the highs of a five-game winning streak, the Grand Valley State men’s basketball team headed to the state of Ohio to face off against GLIAC foes Ashland University and Tiffin University.
The Lakers’ winning streak would end after a closely contested 89-80 loss to the GLIAC heavyweight Ashland Eagles on Thursday, Jan. 11, but a new streak began after GVSU took down Tiffin 80-71 on Saturday, Jan. 13. GVSU’s record now stands at 9-8 overall (4-5 GLIAC), placing them in fourth in the GLIAC North Division.
Although GVSU would have rather taken two victories, their solid play proved that this group has the fight to compete when it matters most. That mentality came from their senior leader and point guard, Myles Miller, who scored a combined 50 points over the two games.
Before their contest against Ashland (13-3, 6-2 GLIAC), the Lakers knew what type of opponent they would be up against. Although the Lakers average 2 more points a game, the Eagles are currently the No. 1 ranked defense in the GLIAC, allowing only 63.7 points per game. Ashland also has the league’s second-leading scorer in forward Wendell Davis, who averages 21.7 points per game.
“We just have to come in hungry if we want a chance to beat Ashland,” said freshman forward Jake Van Tubbergen before their trip to Ohio.
That’s what the Lakers did, as the first 10 minutes of regulation resulted in three major lead changes. With 10:55 remaining in the first half, Van Tubbergen hit a short-range jumper in the paint to give his team a 18-15 lead. Van Tubbergen finished the contest with 10 points (4-8 FG) and five rebounds in 25 minutes.
However, Ashland finished the half up 42-36. GVSU’s 3-point shooting wasn’t the problem, as the team went 5-11 at a 46-percent clip. The problem was their scoring in the paint, which has been their bread and butter all season long. GVSU only scored 6 points in the paint during the half.
Willed by stellar second halves from Miller and sophomore Hunter Hale, the Lakers began to chip away at Ashland’s lead. After a Hale 3-pointer with 16:53 left in the second half, the Lakers regained the lead at 45-44.
Both teams then proceeded to trade leads with each other until Hale hit another 3-pointer to tie the game at 80 with 0:59 remaining. However, Ashland’s Davis answered back with a 3-pointer of his own to give Ashland a lead they would never look back on. Final score: Ashland 89, GVSU 80.
Miller scored 18 points (8-12 FG, 2-4 3pt) in the second half, bringing his game total to 27 points (12-19 FG, 3-5 3pt). Hale shot the lights out, hitting four 3-pointers in the second to finish the contest with 21 points (7-13 FG, 5-8 3pt) and three assists.
“We lean on Myles when we need a leader,” said GVSU head coach Ric Wesley in an interview prior to the road trip. “He doesn’t quit when things look tough, and that motivates the rest of the team to do the same.”
The Lakers' contest against Tiffin (6-10, 2-7 GLIAC) was a much easier task, but the Dragons fought the whole way through. By the end of the first half, the Lakers only led 36-34, even though they shot 62 percent from the field.
The second half was another time for Miller to shine—and he did. Miller scored 17 points (7-11 FG, 1-2 3pt) to bring his total to 23 points (10-16 FG) on the night. His biggest shot came with 0:41 remaining in regulation, when he drained a 3-pointer to give his team a 74-71 lead, which they maintained for the remainder of the contest.
Replacing Hale’s second-half theatrics was sophomore Ben Lubitz, who scored 14 points (3-9 FG, 1-3 3pt and 7-8 FT) to bring his total to 19 points on the evening. Out of his 19 points, 6 of them came from free throws in the final 29 seconds
The Lakers will next play Lake Superior State at the DeltaPlex Arena on Thursday, Jan. 18, as a part of their “Downtown Thursdays” series. Their game will start at 8 p.m., while the women’s game will begin at 6 p.m.