GVSU men’s basketball fails to overcome first-half deficit in loss against Davenport

GVL / Robbie Triano 
GVSU Mens Basketball vs Davenport University on Saturday December 2, 2017.

GVL / Robbie Triano GVSU Men’s Basketball vs Davenport University on Saturday December 2, 2017.

Robbie Triano

There are 40 minutes of competition in every Grand Valley State men’s basketball game, with the time split into two 20-minute halves. 

On the road in Caledonia, Michigan, against the Davenport University Panthers, the Lakers showed off their true capabilities in the last 20 minutes. But that time was spent trying to dig themselves out of the hole they had put themselves in to begin with, as the Lakers could only muster 15 points during the first half. GVSU ended up dropping their fifth game of the season to the Panthers by a final score of 66-55 on Saturday, Dec. 2. 

Coming into the contest, GVSU head coach Ric Wesley knew exactly what his team would expect from an emerging Davenport (7-2 overall, 2-0 GLIAC), but he could only be disappointed with the final results. Davenport became a member of the GLIAC starting July of 2017. 

“Davenport has a really good program, and it’s because they have a tradition of being used to winning,” Wesley said. “They’ve been really excited about coming into the GLIAC, and we are just bumping along here trying to find our way.

“It’s just disappointing that we didn’t come out with more steam and aggressiveness. We were just soft.”

It took the Lakers close to six minutes and seven missed field goals before senior center Drake Baar put up the first 2 points for GVSU. That theme carried out throughout the rest of the first half as Davenport’s defense forced the Lakers to run only isolation offense, compared to their ball-movement-oriented offense. 

A visibly frustrated Laker squad walked off the court down 32-15 heading into halftime. GVSU shot only 28 percent from the field in the first half and 0-7 from behind the 3-point line. On a positive note, GVSU also held Davenport to only 32 percent from the field, but 10 offensive rebounds in the first half gave the Panthers second-chance opportunities that the Lakers couldn’t afford to lose.

Although Wesley said the halftime break was mostly focused on defensive schemes, GVSU came out in the second half as if they received a shot of adrenaline compared to the effort in the first half. 

Leading the second half surge for GVSU was senior point guard Myles Miller, who came out with a high level of intensity to grab early steals and score inside. The energy from Miller sparked the comeback motivation for the rest of the Lakers. Miller finished with 12 points (5-10 FG) and three steals. 

“We only made a couple of changes heading into the second half, but the major difference was our competitive nature,” Wesley said. “And Myles was a major reason for that.”

With five minutes remaining in regulation, sophomore Hunter Hale hit a 3-point shot to bring the score within 4 points. Hale finished the night with 13 points and all three of GVSU’s 3-point makes. 

But Davenport took control of the game right back after forcing GVSU to commit multiple shooting fouls. As the final buzzer rang, GVSU walked away with their fifth loss of the season and a handful of questions moving forward. 

“We just got to get a lot tougher,” Wesley said. “If you’re not competitive, you’re not tough. It’s very difficult. There’s no strategy for that. Instead, you just need to dig down deep and find the guys that are willing to do that. As a coaching staff, we need to find that out.”

However, there was one bright point for the Lakers, and that came from freshman forward Jake Van Tubbergen. The Holland, Michigan, native was sidelined with a leg injury to start the season but has now emerged as one of the team’s most versatile players. 

Against a much shorter but more athletic Davenport lineup, Van Tubbergen defensively covered the small forwards and the centers. That versatility played to his strength on offense, as Van Tubbergen scored a team-high 14 points (7-8 FG), along with five rebounds and two steals. 

“Jake is one of our best players,” Wesley said. “We didn’t have him available until our trip to Florida, so he’s been slowly coming along. But he came out and had a really strong performance.”

The Lakers (3-5, 0-1 GLIAC) will head to downtown Grand Rapids to compete in the Deltaplex Arena as a part of the “Downtown Thursday Night” promotion, along with the GVSU women’s basketball team. The first game of the series will be Thursday, Dec. 7, against Michigan Tech at 6 p.m.