The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

GV men’s basketball heads into GLIAC tourney as No. 4 seed after two close wins

Courtesy GVSU Athletics

The Grand Valley State University Lakers men’s basketball team continued its four game winning streak, taking both of their road matchups to finish off the regular season. 

On Thursday, Feb. 29, the Lakers upset the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference-leading Northern Michigan University Wildcats (21-9, 14-4) 106-99 in a double overtime battle. Then, they beat the Michigan Technological University Huskies (11-16, 8-10) 92-86 on Saturday, Mar. 2 in the final game of the regular season.

The Lakers’ head coach Cornell Mann said the winning streak is a sign of his squad gelling together.

“I see a team emerging into a big cohesive unit, from player one to the end, every guy on the bench has input in every game,” Mann said. “The chemistry and the continuity is really at its highest level at the right time.”

The Lakers came out hot from the tip, taking an early 21-11 lead off of a layup from redshirt sophomore forward Ethan Alderink just past the midway point in the first half. The Wildcats immediately responded, going on a run to draw the Lakers lead to just three. 

GVSU came off of the ropes as 3-pointers from sophomore guard Mason Docks, sophomore guard Jalen Charity and redshirt junior forward William Dunn ignited a 9-0 run of their own. 

This helped the Lakers to carry a double-digit 45-35 lead heading into the locker room at halftime.

NMU showed resilience by responding once again, this time with a fast start to begin the second half. This scoring output sliced the Lakers lead to just six points, where it would be held until the three minute mark in the game.

The Wildcats fought back and brought the lead to one possession, two points, with 21 seconds to play. They tied the game at 81-81 with 11 seconds remaining. A final possession from the Lakers was unsuccessful and the game was sent to its first overtime, where things got shaky for GVSU.

NMU started the first overtime period with a 7-0 lead, until GVSU sophomore guard Britain Harris hit a 3-pointer to get his team on the board.

After a NMU layup, GVSU guards Trevor Smith and Docks hit back-to-back 3-pointers to tie the game 90-90 with 1:44 left in the first OT.

The Wildcats made a layup to take a two-point lead with 29 seconds left. With plenty of time remaining for one last possession, Mann called a timeout to organize his team. Coming out of the break, the Lakers’ graduate senior forward, Marius Grazulis, tied the score at 92 points to send the game to a second overtime.

To start overtime number two, Grazulis and Dunn made back-to-back buckets to give the Lakers a 4-0 lead. The Wildcats answered with a layup of their own to come within a basket, before GVSU went on a 6-0 run to take a 102-94 lead that helped them take control of the final overtime. 

The Lakers sealed the win at the free throw line to upset the Wildcats, winning the double overtime thriller 106-99.

Grazulis secured his fifth double-double of the season, scoring 22 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. 

Grazulis feels the Lakers are putting the pieces in place at the right time, demonstrating the team’s growth.

“This was a huge game to prove to ourselves that we can fight back,” Grazulis said. “It seemed like everything was against us, but we were able to fight back and show real fight and perseverance that we didn’t have at the beginning of the year.”

The matchup with MTU started similarly to the matchup against NMU. The Lakers jumped out to an early 17-7 lead just five minutes into the game and held onto the advantage for the remainder of the game. 

A layup by Alderink extended the GVSU lead to 12 points halfway through the first half. However, the Huskies crawled back and cut the Lakers lead to 40-36 as the teams entered halftime.

Out of the break, Grazulis scored on a layup and made a free throw after being fouled on the shot to go up by seven. NMU then tallied a quick five points to pull within two. Then, Dunn came up clutch for the Lakers hitting on back-to-back 3-pointers to put GVSU back up by eight with 14 minutes to play. 

A 9-3 MTU run brought them back within two points of the Lakers, but Harris answered by splashing back-to-back three’s and followed that with two free throws to put the Lakers lead back at 10.

The two teams traded baskets in the final minutes, but the Lakers would hold on to finish off the regular season with a 92-86 win.

After scoring a previous career-high 23 against Ferris State University the prior weekend, Harris made a new career high with 24 points against both NMU and MTU.

“Brit (Britain Harris) does not lack any confidence, but now his confidence is in the right place,” Mann said. “He is playing with a greater mental focus, which is good for our team.”

Harris said the team’s work all season finally came together and has allowed him to play at his best.

“My confidence has come from being in the gym and putting in the work. But to score 24 in both games, it was my teammates giving me the ball at the right time and the coaches making the right calls at the right time,” Harris said. “ As a team we are all executing and coming together with the things we have worked on the entire year.”

GVSU finished the regular season with a 14-14 overall record and a 11-7 record in GLIAC play. The Lakers will look to continue their recent success as they clinched the fourth seed in the conference tournament and will again host the Huskies in a quarterfinal matchup on Wednesday, March 6 at 8 p.m. In order to make the NCAA Tournament, GVSU will have to win three straight games in the GLIAC Tournament for an automatic bid.

More to Discover