Lakers’ hot streak cools after pair of road losses

GVL / Bo Anderson
GVSUs Tony Peters shoots a free throw on Thursdays game against Ashland

Bo Anderson

GVL / Bo Anderson GVSU’s Tony Peters shoots a free throw on Thursday’s game against Ashland

Brady Fredericksen

Coming into their final regular-season road trip of the season, the Grand Valley State University men’s basketball team appeared to be peaking at the right time.

After struggling mid-way through the season, the team had rediscovered their winning ways and appeared primed to continue their four-game winning streak.

That is, until they played the games, where the University of Findlay and Wayne State University had other plans. The Lakers’ winning streak was stymied as the team dropped both games, flipping its winning streak into a losing streak.

Despite the 80-67 final, it was the Lakers’ (14-11, 10-8 GLIAC) offense that kept them in their game at Wayne State (16-8, 13-5 GLIAC) on Saturday.

Led by senior guard James Thomas’ 28 points, the Lakers trailed by nine at halftime despite shooting 62 percent from the field and getting 15 of their 32 first-half points from their senior scorer.

“We were in the game … as it went on, we just were never able to really consistently stop them,” said GVSU head coach Ric Wesley. “I just didn’t think we were tough enough, we weren’t physically and mentally tough enough to sustain the kind of execution and effort that you have to have in order to win on the road against good teams.

Thomas continued his offensive outburst in the second half, and the Lakers cut the Warriors’ lead to five points with 12:02 remaining, but two fouls in under a minute put Thomas on the bench and the GVSU offense stalled while Wayne State continued to shoot well.

The Warriors made nine 3-pointers in the game, and were led in scoring by senior center Ike Udanoh, who scored 20 points while pulling down seven rebounds. Three other Wayne State players scored in double figures, assisting in the Warriors’ second-half run to seal the game.

“That’s kind of life on the road,” Wesley said. “Teams tend to play better at home and certainly shoot the ball a lot better. I thought our offense was ok, JT was tremendous, but today we just couldn’t stop them.”

The game marked the end of the Lakers’ most difficult road trip of the season, and the team saw a similar result on Thursday in their 68-57 loss at the University of Findlay.

Nearly perfect at home, the Oilers (19-6, 13-5 GLIAC) forced the Lakers into 17 turnovers and led by as many as 21 points.

“That home court advantage gave Findlay a lot of attitude and they were pretty aggressive,” Thomas said. “I thought we played pretty good coming down the stretch though, we need to just put up 40-consecutive minutes of playing hard.”

While the Lakers failed to follow Thomas’ lead on Saturday — only junior guard Breland Hogan scored more than eight points — the supporting cast played well while Thomas struggled on Thursday.

The senior scored only two points, but junior guard Tony Peters added 16 points and four 3-pointers, while senior center Nick Waddell added 10 points and seven rebounds off the bench.

Despite the rough trip, the Lakers will need to regain focus soon with their season finale against rival Ferris State University on Saturday at Fieldhouse Arena at 8 p.m.

“I think it will fuel us and give us energy,” Thomas said. “We’re looking forward to it being senior day and playing Ferris, we just want to come out there and get a win going into the conference tournament.”

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