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

No. 1 seed GV women’s basketball falls to No. 3 seed Ferris in Sweet Sixteen, finishes 31-3

GVL / Risho Wooten

The Grand Valley State University Lakers women’s basketball team hosted the Division II NCAA Tournament Midwest Region as the No. 1 seed, winning two games and advancing to the Sweet Sixteen after winning the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) Championship for the third-consecutive season.

With GVSU playing on their home court at the Fieldhouse Arena in Allendale, Michigan, their NCAA Tournament run began with a demolition of the Trevecca Nazarene University Trojans in the first round. Then, the Lakers faced Northern Michigan University in another blow out win before falling to rival Ferris State University in a thrilling game that was up in the air until the final buzzer.

On Friday, March 15, the Lakers took on TNU in the first round of the tournament and it was a battle from tipoff with the Lakers getting off to a hot 7-0 start in the first quarter, but the Trojans responding with a 6-2 run of their own.

In the second quarter, the Trojans were able to outplay the Lakers as GVSU only scored seven points on 17% shooting from the field, while TNU scored 13 points on 47% shooting from the field. That gave the Trojans a 22-21 lead at halftime.

It was clear that the Lakers came out of the half with a renowned focus, as they shot 65% from the field in the third quarter and shot 55% from 3-point land. GVSU’s second half explosion began with 25 points in the third quarter and 17 points in the fourth quarter, while holding the Trojans to just 13 points in total.

GVL / Risho Wooten

The Lakers walked away with a 63-35 victory. GVSU head coach Mike Willams told his team to settle down at halftime.

“Just keep the course. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves,” Williams said. “We just got to compete and play the game. I thought they did that just to relax a little bit and thankfully we had halftime to regroup, but not a lot of adjustments were made.”

GVSU redshirt junior Rylie Bisballe, the GLIAC Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, led the way for the Lakers as she had a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds.

The following day after playing the Trojans, Saturday, March 17, the Lakers played a familiar face in NMU. Just a week prior, the Lakers defeated the Wildcats to win the GLIAC championship. Once again, GVSU had a dominating showcase, blowing them out 72-44.

They played lockdown defense on Northern Michigan as they shot a team field goal percentage of 32% from the field, while GVSU shot a scorching 52% from the field. 48 of the Lakers 72 points came from inside the paint.

GVSU sophomore guard Nicole Kamin led the team in scoring with 20 points and three assists, while Bisballe followed right behind her with 19 points and seven rebounds. The big win over NMU advanced GVSU to the Sweet Sixteen to face their archrival, the Ferris State University Bulldogs.

On Monday, March 19, the magical run for the Lakers came to an end as they fell to Ferris State in a back and forth battle in the Midwest Regional Final. The loss ended a 16 game winning streak for the Lakers. The last team to defeat GVSU was the Bulldogs on Jan. 20, handing them two of their three losses on the year.

Ferris State was coming off of a win over the defending National Champion Ashland University, who surrendered just two losses on the year, both to the Bulldogs. With Ferris State’s campus sitting just over an hour north of Allendale, Michigan, a raucous crowd of nearly 2,000 supporters for both GVSU and Ferris State were in attendance at the Fieldhouse Arena.

It was clear that the pressure was high for the two rival squads in the first quarter, as both teams struggled to score and were playing tight on offense. The Bulldogs shot 30% from the field, while the Lakers shot 21% from the field. 

It continued in the second quarter with neither team gaining any momentum. The Bulldogs scored just 12 points on 42% shooting, versus the Lakers 10 points on 28% shooting.

Williams felt his team wasn’t aggressive enough in the first half.

“Well, I thought we deferred a little bit,” Williams said. “ We came out of halftime thinking ‘you gotta catch and shoot, you gotta hunt some shots’, and I think we were just hesitant (in the first half).”

Coming out of the break, the Lakers trailed, 25-21. Taking on a conference rival seemed to level the playing field, no matter the momentum GVSU had built from their previous 16 consecutive victories. A sluggish start to the quarter was noticeable as the crowd of GVSU fans fell silent watching the Bulldogs go on a 10-3 run that sent town fans into a frenzy.

Williams then called a pivotal timeout that helped send the Lakers for a 10-1 run of their own. It was Bisballe who made the difference. After splashing a 3-pointer and then finishing through contact for an and-one on the next possession, the Lakers made it a 36-32 game. 

With only six seconds left in the third quarter, GVSU forced a turnover and Kamin scored on a layup before time expired. Suddenly, Lakers fans were reenergized as their team had just found the spark they badly needed heading into the fourth quarter.

The final 10 minutes is where it narrowly slipped away for the Lakers. GVSU went on to commit six turnovers in the quarter. Both teams shot 38% from the field, but both teams traded 3-pointers late in the quarter. One from sophomore guard Molly Anderson on the fastbreak, which was quickly neutralized by a step-back three from Ferris State sophomore guard Kenzie Bowers.

It was a 48-44 game, and GVSU struggled to regain the lead. After Kamin would score a layup to cut the lead to just two points, the Lakers struggled to run their offense in the final minute and a half of the game. The pressure from the Bulldogs’ defense, and the Lakers’ need to score, led to three Kamin turnovers, which helped seal the 49-46 victory for the Bulldogs.

“Yeah, just not those moments of taking care of the ball definitely would’ve helped, it came down to the last minute and we weren’t able to execute,” Kamin said.

With the loss, the Lakers season came to an end with an impressive record of 31-3 and a conference record of 17-1, along with a 16 game winning streak that lasted two months and helped them to a GLIAC Championship. Following the loss, Williams was proud of how the season that his team had.

“Well, certainly we had an incredible season. I thought we played hard and I thought we bounced back,” Williams said. “ I think it’s a testament of these players and the work they put in and I felt super proud of every player on this team and (Ferris State) made a couple plays more than we did down that stretch, and they got the win.”

GVL / Risho Wooten
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