Lakers blast Marygrove in season opener

Breland Hogan runs the ball down the court while keeping the Marygrove defender away

Nicole Lamson

Breland Hogan runs the ball down the court while keeping the Marygrove defender away

Brady Fredericksen

For a team whose calling card is defense and low-scoring affairs, Grand Valley State University’s 109-55 home win over Marygrove College Saturday proved the Lakers’ No. 5 national ranking well deserved.

GVSU scored their highest point total since 2008 and topped its season highs in assists (27) and three-pointers made (11) from 2009-10.

“This year I think we have more scoring options, and we really focus on transition and pushing the ball – that’s big for us this year,” said sophomore guard Breland Hogan, who had 10 points and five assists. “We’re not real big this year, so we’ve got a lot of fast guys who can get out on the break and get easy baskets.”

Throughout the first half, the Lakers showed an improved offensive game compared to last season fueled by the team’s ability to offensively rebound and force turnovers. Seven offensive rebounds led to many scoring opportunities while 14 Marygrove turnovers resulted in 24 GVSU points.

“Overall we did a pretty good job, but I think we gave up a lot of penetration,” Wesley said. “We worked hard. We were excited, had a nice crowd, and the students were great. It was a fun night, and it was great to get a lot of guys into the game.”

Twelve Lakers saw action as six players scored in double figures in a balanced offensive attack led by senior forward Justin Ringler’s 16 points.

Ringler struggled in the first half, shooting 3-of-9 from the field with only seven points, while the team put 53 points on the board.

“We know that every game someone new is going to step up,” said Ringler, who had a team-high six rebounds. “I couldn’t get anything to fall in the first, but everyone else was playing good, so we were just going through them. We try to be as balanced as possible and not go through just one guy.”

While the GVSU offense put an emphatic stamp on the game, the defense – specifically the full-court press – proved suffocating throughout.

“We always try to extend our defense whenever it presents itself, and we play a lot of guys to keep the energy up, so eventually it takes its toll (on the opponent),” said GVSU head coach Ric Wesley. “We’re not real big, so I think we need to be good at our full-court pressure as well as shooting and handling the ball. Those are things small teams have to be good at. “

The Lakers continued to score into the second half, surpassing the 75-point “Free Taco Bell” mark midway through. Contributions from guard Wes Trammel (11 points, six assists), Tony Peters (12 points) and James Thomas (15 points) gave the team a much-needed shooting touch from outside.

Aside from tough defense and crisp offensive execution, the three-point outburst was the biggest surprise of the day. The Lakers shot only 29 percent from beyond the arc last season, but Saturday’s output of 11 for 20 from deep was a welcome addition.

“I think we’re definitely a better shooting team, whether or not we make as many as we did tonight remains to be seen,” Wesley said. “James (Thomas) is an excellent shooter and a great addition. Wes (Trammel) was a tremendous shooter in his freshman year, but he had an off year last season, so we expect him to bounce back. Those guys pretty much hit shots every day, and with Tony Peters, Nick Cerrari and K’Len Morris coming back, I think we’re going to shoot much better this year.”

GVSU will be back on the court Tuesday against Spring Arbor University in a non-conference match at the Fieldhouse Arena.

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