GVSU women’s hoops win two games in Puerto Rico

GVL / Kevin Sielaff - Bailey Cairnduff (34) sprints up court.  The Lakers down the Timberwolves of Northwood University in Allendale with a final score of 71-47 Jan. 24, 2016.

Kevin Sielaff

GVL / Kevin Sielaff – Bailey Cairnduff (34) sprints up court. The Lakers down the Timberwolves of Northwood University in Allendale with a final score of 71-47 Jan. 24, 2016.

Josh Peick

While the majority of the Grand Valley State community was stuffing turkey in their mouths and watching football for Thanksgiving, the GVSU women’s basketball team was busy basking in the sun and winning two games in Puerto Rico.

The Lakers beat Lubbock Christian, the defending NCAA National Champions, 52-45 and Indianapolis 53-47 in the two-game series in Puerto Rico.

“We knew that it would be close games and they were,” said GVSU coach Mike Williams. “I thought our kids were challenged and they responded.”

Aside from paddle boarding and swimming in the ocean, the No. 19 Lakers (4-1) beat No. 24 Lubbock Christian on the first game of the trip Friday, Nov. 25. Senior guard Janae Langs led all scorers with 15 points to go along with four rebounds and two assists.

GVSU jumped out to a lead in the first half, but the Chaparrals responded in the third quarter to cut into the lead. The Lakers countered in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Chaparrals 15-10.

“They didn’t hang their heads,” Williams said. “Both teams made runs. We were up 12 on Lubbock and they cut it to two, and our kids kept their chins up.”

After starting with a win, the Lakers finished the trip with a perfect record by topping Indianapolis on Saturday, Nov. 26. Shooting guard Bailey Cairnduff led the team with 19 points along with seven rebounds and two steals.

“She was aggressive hunting shots,” Williams said. “That’s what we do and I thought that was good to see.”

Similar to the Lubbock Christian game, the Lakers played a strong first half to take a lead into the second half. Langs led all scorers in the first half with six points.

“We just had a great energy and everyone was feeding off each other,” Cairnduff said. “I just happened to be in the right places in the right time.”

But like the game against Lubbock Christian, Indianapolis cut into the Lakers’ lead in the third quarter. The Lakers turned to the starting five to stop the comeback.

GVSU’s starting five played heavily throughout the game, with each of them logging over 30 minutes on the floor.

“We have a pretty deep bench but a lot of the time it’s about matchups,” Williams said. “Our starters were warriors to go back-to-back and (to) play as many minutes as they did was pretty impressive.”

The Lakers closed out the game by outscoring the Greyhounds 17-12 in the fourth quarter to secure the victory. After giving up more than 70 points in two games this season, the GVSU defense has shaped up in the last three games, allowing less than 50 points in all three.

“These last two games, our defense is what (helped) us through those two victories,” Langs said. “Now we know that we can stop good teams from scoring.”

The game against Indianapolis marked the Lakers’ last game against a non-conference opponent before GLIAC play starts Thursday, Dec. 1 against Findlay. The Lakers are riding a three-game winning streak.

“They were two great teams, but we can’t get too caught up in it,” Cairnduff said. “We have to feed off the energy right now and carry that over into conference play.”

GVSU will host Findlay Thursday, Dec. 1 at 6 p.m. and Ohio Dominican Saturday, Dec. 3 at 1 p.m.