Sawyers for a day, winners for a week

GVL/Katherine Vasile, 2/21/2019, GVSU Fieldhouse Arena, Women's Basketball GVSU vs. Northern Michigan

GVL/Katherine Vasile, 2/21/2019, GVSU Fieldhouse Arena, Women's Basketball GVSU vs. Northern Michigan

Brady McAtamney

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Any fan of defense would be a fan of the No. 11 Grand Valley State women’s basketball team’s week, as the Lakers held their two out-of-peninsula opponents – Northern Michigan on Thursday, Feb. 21 and Michigan Tech on Saturday, Feb. 23 – to 10 and 15 points at halftime respectively. The defense translated into victories with GVSU claiming a 50-37 win before a 74-46 drubbing. The wins make nine in a row for the Lakers who are now 25-2 (18-1 GLIAC). 

The weekend started slowly in Fieldhouse Arena, as the Lakers scored weekend-lows 12 and nine points in the first two quarters against NMU. Fortunately, their defense had the Panthers on lockdown, not allowing points until there were 32 seconds left in the first quarter on a pair of free throws and keeping their opponents without a made field goal until the 5:16 mark of the second.

“I thought we did a good job taking away what they wanted to do,” said head coach Mike Williams. “They’ve got about three, four strengths and we did a good job trying to limit those, and they missed some shots. They missed point-blank shots. They missed some threes, they missed some layups, some that rattled around the rim and popped out, (but) we did a pretty good job of taking away what they wanted to do.”

A 21-10 halftime score – a point total that would be beaten in two quarters of the Tech game – ended up becoming improved yet still minor scoring in the second half as the Lakers were able to come away with Williams’ 100th career with at GVSU; a number he cares little about. 

“100 win means really nothing,” Williams said. “It was a great win from a standpoint that they took it to you and we responded like we did. It was a good conference win, a big-time win and it’s a win at home. Your goal is to play really well at home and we did that today.”

Center Cassidy Boensch dominated, scoring 22 points with 12 rebounds and two blocks. While she was the only played in the game in double-digit scoring, the team received contributions by way of rebounds, steals and assists from several other sources.

The Lakers – who changed their name for a day to the “Sawyers” for Sawyer Day for the game – would fortunately see their dearth of offense dissipate two days later, as four players reached double digits in the win over the Huskies. Guard Natalie Koenig led the group with 20 points, seven rebounds and five assists while guard Taya Andrews scored 16 points off the bench on six-of-seven shooting, making all three of her attempts from long-range. Forward Maddie Dailey contributed 13 points and eight rebounds while Boensch added 10 points and 12 rebounds. 

While her stat line may not reflect it as much as it does during other games, the Lakers’ shooters felt that their center’s style of play and reputation of dominance opened up the rest of the offense to do their thing. 

“People have to guard (Boensch) down low,” Koenig said. “She’s a presence down there, but it’s also our job to catch the ball and be ready to shoot. Everyone did a good job of that. We’ve just got to keep doing that.”

Additionally, Andrews, whose 16 points were a career high, credited the rest of her teammates with being able to get clean looks. 

“We had great ball movement, we looked for each other,” Andrews said. “There was a lot of digging down which created openings on the perimeter, setting good screens, cutting hard which we were practicing all week so it just paid off.”

With one game left in the regular season, the Lakers have clinched the top seed in the GLIAC tournament and a regular season title. They will wrap up their slate with a home meeting against the Davenport Panthers (5-21, 3-16 GLIAC) on Thursday, Feb. 28 at 6 p.m.