GVSU men’s basketball wins two on the road

GVL / Kevin Sielaff - Myles Miller (12) powers into the lane.  The Lakers fall to the Eagles of Ashland University in a tough overtime loss Dec. 3 in Allendale. The final score was 76-72.

Kevin Sielaff

GVL / Kevin Sielaff – Myles Miller (12) powers into the lane. The Lakers fall to the Eagles of Ashland University in a tough overtime loss Dec. 3 in Allendale. The final score was 76-72.

Alex Eisen

After getting blown out on the road in preseason exhibition games against two Division I opponents, the Grand Valley State men’s basketball team found itself traveling for the first time since those merciless and largely meaningless defeats.

This time, instead of taking a beating, the Lakers dished it out.

GVSU (7-2, 2-2 GLIAC) picked up its first conference win of the season Friday night against Tiffin (4-5, 1-3 GLIAC) by leading wire-to-wire for an 83-69 victory. Then, the Lakers followed up that performance on Sunday afternoon with an 85-79 win over Ohio Dominican (3-7, 0-4 GLIAC).

The pair of victories eased the pain left after consecutive losses last weekend to Ashland and Lake Erie.

“Always happy to go on the road and win any games, let alone two of them,” said GVSU head coach Ric Wesley. “Especially coming back from two disappointing home losses to start the conference.”

The Lakers put on a shooting clinic from behind the arc in the first half against Tiffin by draining nine 3-pointers, which at the time tied GVSU’s season-high for most triples it had collectively made in a game this season.

Symbolically, the first-half buzzer sounded seconds after junior Trevin Alexander nailed a triple to give the Lakers a 10-point cushion heading into halftime, 46-36.

GVSU extended its double-digit lead throughout the second half.

The Lakers shot 50 percent from the field (30 for 60) and knocked down a season-high 12 triples on 26 attempts (46.2 percent).

“I don’t necessarily know if we shot (the ball) better, but we moved the ball better,” Wesley said. “We certainly shared the ball more, and as the ball moves I just think we get better 3-point shooting opportunities.”

Luke Ryskamp led the way offensively with a match-high 20 points, including four 3-pointers. It was the third time in the young season that the junior guard has reached the 20-point plateau.

Ryskamp’s partner in the backcourt, senior Aaron Hayes, collected 12 points as he went 4 of 5 from the field, and was a perfect 3 of 3 from distance. Hayes also had team-bests with five assists and five rebounds.

Forwards Chaz Rollins (11 points) and Alexander (10) finished in double-digits with points as well.

Effectively crashing the boards, the Lakers out-rebounded the Dragons 33-26, and have yet to be beat on the glass this season. The Lakers’ +7 rebound margin against Tiffin nearly matched GVSU’s conference-leading mark of +9.7 it had entering the contest.

“There is just something about me, Trevin (Alexander) and Chaz (Rollins)… and even Justin (Greason) – all four of us – are determined to go to the glass every single time and get the rebound,” said senior forward Ricardo Carbajal.

GVSU also held the advantage over Tiffin on the stat sheet in assists (21-17), bench scoring (27-13), second-chance points (12-3) and points in the paint (28-20).

Two days later against Ohio Dominican, Ryskamp picked up right where he left off with nine of the Lakers’ first 11 points. He finished with a game-high 24 points and eight rebounds.

“I was getting open and making shots,” Ryskamp said. “We moved the ball well around the floor and I was able to take advantage of that.”

GVSU started both halves rather stagnant on offense. It took better ball movement to help the Lakers pull away in the first half, but the Panthers took advantage of GVSU’s 17 turnovers in the second half.

ODU pulled within two points at 53-51 with 13:22 remaining after trailing by seven at the half, 44-37. But, from there, the Laker defense tightened up.

The Lakers held the Panthers to a 39.4 shooting percentage for the game and capitalized on missed shots. GVSU out-rebounded ODU by 47-30. Coming out of the weekend, the Lakers increased their conference-leading rebound margin from +9.7 to +10.2.

Rollins earned his second double-double of the season with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Carbajal came a rebound shy of recording his second double-double as well, recording 18 points and nine rebounds.

ODU inched closer near the end of the game to make it more interesting, but GVSU calmly broke down the Panthers’ full-court press and sunk free throws to seal the victory, 85-79.

The Lakers have one more road game in Ohio against Cedarville (4-5) on Saturday at 4 p.m. before getting two weeks off for the holidays.