GVSU women's basketball dominates in 'Downtown Thursday' matchup against Lake Superior

By Brady McAtamney | 1/22/18 2:26am

Delta Plex - Lake Superior State (4 of 26)
GVL / Dylan McIntyre. Thursday, January 18, 2018. Grand Valley against Lake Superior State at the Delta Plex

Whenever your leading scorer is tied with the other team at halftime, you know the game is probably going well.

That’s how the Grand Valley State women’s basketball team (15-3, 8-2 GLIAC) felt on Thursday, Jan. 18, when junior guard Natalie Koenig had 16 of her eventual career-high 22 points going into the break of an 80-40 beatdown of the Lake Superior State Lakers (0-14, 0-10 GLIAC). The home game was played at the DeltaPlex Arena in Grand Rapids as part of the "Downtown Thursday" series.

“Well, these last couple games I was in a shooting slump, and now I just knew that I had to keep shooting, and that’s what I did, so I guess it turned out okay,” Koenig said. “I just took open shots and I was confident with it. Coach Williams has been working on my shot with me, so I just took his advice, and my teammates moved the ball well, and I just found open shots and drove to the basket.”

The first quarter started well for GVSU as they dominated the first five minutes, scoring 15 points before Lake Superior even managed a single bucket.

If a 24-11 first quarter was good, though, a 25-5 second was outstanding, as Lake Superior’s only points in the quarter came from two layups and a free throw.

The (home) Lakers shot 61.2 percent from the field as a team and 42.1 percent from 3-point range, led by Koenig’s deadeye 4-4 mark from deep and 7-8 altogether. Sophomore center Cassidy Boensch added 14 points of her own to go with five rebounds and two blocks. Sophomore guard Jenn DeBoer was the do-it-all Laker, scoring 5, grabbing six boards, handing out five assists and nabbing two steals.

The paint was a key area for GVSU, as they scored 42 of their points there and out-rebounded the rival Lakers 29 to 20.

With the game taking place at the DeltaPlex, the GVSU Lakers were reminded of their crushing loss in the first Downtown Thursday matchup when they fell to Michigan Tech 85-81 in overtime.

“I think our players were upset with the way they played last time,” said head coach Mike Williams. “It’s a neat venue; it’s a nice venue. It’s different. I think that was the thing. You’re used to playing on the road or you’re playing on your home floor, so it’s a different venue and I thought they did a great job. It’s like, 'Screw it, we don’t care where we play—we’re coming to play basketball,' and I thought they wanted to not redeem themselves but play better than they did last time, especially defensively, having a little more pop defensively than we did last time we played here.”

Their defense certainly showed up, as they held Lake Superior to 34.9 percent shooting from the field and 26.7 percent from 3-point range. They forced 28 turnovers resulting in 29 points, 10 of which came on fast breaks, all while committing only 12 personal fouls as a team.

Just because they won by 40, though, does not mean it was a perfect game for GVSU. They were outscored in the third quarter 15-14 and did not seem to possess the same fire they had in the previous half.

“I think it was turnovers, soft turnovers," Williams said. "I think it was not staying in front of our players. We gambled, gave them stuff, let them drive to the rim and then made foolish fouls. We put them on the free-throw line. 

"So, it was a combination of things. It was not good basketball, and that’s frustrating as a coach. I know it frustrates our players, too. They don’t want to play bad. I know that. It’s not like they’re trying to do this, and we’re trying to play better and not trying to have such long stretches of poor basketball."

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