Sweet 16: Laker women win two to advance
For the first time since 2016, the Grand Valley State women’s basketball team is on to the Sweet 16.
The No. 3 seeded Lakers beat up on the No. 2 seed Lewis 72-55 on Saturday, March 16 to punch their ticket to the regional semifinal after defeating No. 6 Truman State 89-64 the day before.
“It’s unreal,” said GVSU forward Maddie Dailey. “We’re so excited to be one of 16 left playing. It’s a great feeling, especially because the last two years we’ve lost in the semifinal in our region so to finally make it to Monday night is really special for us.”
Dailey led the game with 20 points while adding five rebounds and three assists, but she got plenty of help from her teammates. Four other Lakers scored in double digits with guard Jenn DeBoer (13 points, eight rebounds, four assists), guard Taya Andrews (12 points, six rebounds), center Cassidy Boensch (11 points, five rebounds) and guard Natalie Koenig (10 points, seven rebounds, five assists).
“Our kids are looking to score, they're making good decisions,” said GVSU head coach Mike Williams. “We talk about the fact that I’m not sure we have great scorers individually but as a group, if we move the ball, we take good shots and we attack, we can all score and I think that’s what they’re doing right now.”
The Lakers won each of the first two quarters 14-10 to bring an eight point lead into halftime, but outscoring LU 21-11 to put themselves in a confident position to win the game heading into the final 10 minutes.
Lewis and GVSU met earlier this season in November where the Flyers came into Allendale and claimed an eight point victory, but the Lakers feel as though they’ve evolved over time and have learned from their previous games to become the power they are right now.
“(Lewis) was our third game of the season and we weren’t quite acquainted with what we could do,” Dailey said. “They out-toughed us for 40 minutes and in this game we were ready to out-tough them right back and get a little revenge.”
The opening round game was not as intense, as the Lakers jumped out against Truman and did not look back during the blowout.
“We try to get into their shooters," said Williams. “Just keep the shots a little bit off balance and we did; they looked rushed, we kept them off the free throw line until the second half… we limited them in transition and get back in transition because they can really score… it was one of the better games we’ve played all year.”
While the Laker defense delivered a strong performance, it was the offense that stood out, as three different players lit up the scoreboard: reigning GLIAC Player of the Year, center Cassidy Boensch, led the game with 27 points, guard Victoria Hedemark added a career high 26 and forward Maddie Dailey added 21. The trio combined to shoot 29-41 from the field and 8-10 from three.
“They can all score in different ways,” Williams said. “(Hedemark) got to the basket, Maddie hit threes and Cassidy hit the rim on post touches. We’re scoring in three different dimensions… The good thing is the players that aren’t scoring, they’re doing everything else to be successful and that’s what we did today.”
GVSU will now take on No. 1 Drury in the Sweet 16 with a trip to Columbus, Ohio on the line for the Elite Eight. The game will tip-off at 8 p.m. on Monday, March 18.