Second-half turnaround leads to Lakers victory

GVL Archive / Eric Coulter
Sophomore Jessica Trambley tries to run past an opponent during the game aainst Michigan State. GV beat Urbana 73 - 67 this weekend

GVL Archive / Eric Coulter Sophomore Jessica Trambley tries to run past an opponent during the game aainst Michigan State. GV beat Urbana 73 – 67 this weekend

Greg Monahan

As in the exhibition game against Michigan State University, things did not look good for the Grand Valley State University women’s basketball team in the first half of their season opener against Urbana University.

But the Lakers one-upped their performance from East Lansing not only by turning in a solid second half, but by coming back to win 73-67 on the road after facing an early 14-point deficit Friday in Urbana, Ohio.

The Lakers trailed 43-29 three minutes into the second half before outscoring the Blue Knights by 20 points from that point on to capture their first win.

“I thought we were really gutsy, and I thought we stayed together,” said GVSU head coach Janel Burgess. “I thought our chemistry was extremely good, and to see us come back from that deficit in the second half – that shows a lot of character and where this team can go.”

Sophomore center Alex Stelfox lead the Lakers with 22 points and 14 rebounds for the second double-double of her career. Her 14 points in the first half kept the Lakers from falling behind further than they already had.

“I felt great after the game,” said Stelfox, the reigning GLIAC Freshman of the Year. “I struggled a bit with MSU because of my back, but it was a lot better (Friday) during the game. That definitely helped me play like my normal self, and I couldn’t have done it without my teammates passing me the ball in the post and finding me for the shots that I took.”

Just as the Lakers fell in a big hole early in last week’s exhibition game against Michigan State, the team shot poorly in the first 20 minutes before turning their offense around in the second half. GVSU outscored Michigan State in the second half and kept the trend going by outscoring Urbana 46-33 in the final half.

“Obviously we want to continue to learn how to start games much quicker,” Burgess said. “I just think it’s part of our maturity. It’s part of our growth as a unit. The greatest part is to watch our gutsy-ness, and when we came back in the game, the looks on the kids’ faces were relentless and very together. The girls were very selfless in those last 15 minutes to be able to pull out the game.”

After allowing the Blue Knights to shoot at 54.4 percent in the first half, the Lakers locked down on defense after the turn, holding Urbana to just 35.7 percent in the second. The team also improved significantly from the 23 turnovers they committed against Michigan State, allowing only 11 and forcing 20.

“We knew what we had to do after the first, and we knew we’re a better team than how we were playing,” Stelfox said. “Coach always has great halftime talks, and she really all pumped us up for the second half. Halftime allowed us to all communicate on what we should do and how we can change so we can win the game.”

After the game, Burgess said it was important for her team to steal its first win in dramatic fashion.

“To be able to walk away with a victory and to be able to do it with the composure down the stretch, along with the cohesiveness of the team, made a very good statement for ourselves as to what we can accomplish and how we’re going to be able to get better each and every day,” she said.

The Lakers will play their home opener against St. Joseph’s University (Ind.) at 1 p.m. Saturday in the Fieldhouse Arena.

[email protected]