Twice is nice: GVSU women’s basketball sweeps season series with No. 3 Ashland, Wayne State

GVL / Sheila Babbitt

GVL / Sheila Babbitt

Brady McAtamney

For the second time this season, the No. 15 Grand Valley State women’s basketball team has taken down the No. 3 Ashland Eagles in epic fashion.

On Thursday, Dec. 6, the Lakers defeated then-top ranked AU by 33 points in Allendale. On Saturday, Feb. 2, though, GVSU had to travel to Ohio as part of a spur of the moment back-to-back after taking out Wayne State 73-42 the day prior after the game was rescheduled from Thursday to Friday due to the polar vortex. 

“It is tough to play back-to-back,” Williams said after beating WSU. “We’re traveling tonight, Ashland is at home but they played as well. I think our kids are looking at it as a good test. If you want to play in the GLAIC tournament you have to play back-to-back, if you want to play in the regional tournament, you have to play back-to-back. I think they really embraced it. No excuses, no nothing. That’s been really good.” 

That positive attitude led to a last-second shot from guard Natalie Koenig that buried the Eagles with just over one second left in the fourth quarter on Saturday following a steal and timeout from guard Victoria Hedemark to stalwart the Ashland attack.

Koenig’s bucket led to obvious excitement in front of the packed Eagle crowd, but Williams took pride in the way his team stayed focused ahead of the final possession. 

“Our kids are just so locked in,” Williams said. 

“We made the shot, they were excited for it like they would have been any other basket, and they said ‘okay, let’s get a stop.’ They kind of talked through the timeout; ‘we’ve got this, let’s do it, we’ve got this.’ They were listening, but they were talking. I think the excitement was like ‘this ain’t over yet, let’s finish this’ and they did.”

Center Cassidy Boensch dominated, scoring 31 points with 13 rebounds and seven blocks for the Lakers. Guard Jenn DeBoer tallied 18 points with seven assists while forward Maddie Dailey added 11 points. Both DeBoer and Dailey played all 40 minutes. 

“I thought offensively, we were really sharp,” Williams said. “We didn’t turn the ball over, I thought our kids did a good job of not playing downhill. I thought we stayed with plays. There were probably three or four times we missed shots, stayed with it and got the basket which was good to see. 

“Defensively, the first half, I don’t know what we were doing. We couldn’t guard them. The second half, they made their shots a little tougher, we didn’t let them get to the rim, we just couldn’t rebound it. They had 19 offensive rebounds and that really kept them in the game.”

The victory snapped Ashland’s 50-game home winning streak.

While not as headline-making, the win over Wayne State counts just as much as any other victory. Six different Lakers scored in double digits against the Warriors: Boensch (21), guard Taya Andrews (13), DeBoer (12) and Koenig, Dailey and Hedemark (10). 

Williams attributed the weekend success to the team staying focused as a unit and adjusting to whatever curveball they were thrown, be it the scheduled day of their game or any scheme their opponents showed them.

Now at 19-2 (12-1 GLIAC), the Lakers will return home for the first time in nearly one month to host the Purdue Northwest Pride (2-17, 0-13) on Thursday, Feb. 7 at 6 p.m. and the Wisconsin Parkside Rangers (8-11, 6-7) on Saturday, Feb. 9 at 1 p.m.