GVSU women’s hoops splits two-game road trip

GVL / Kevin Sielaff - Head coach Mike Williams watches a play unfold as the Lakers square off against the Timberwolves of Northwood University in Allendale on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016.

Kevin Sielaff

GVL / Kevin Sielaff – Head coach Mike Williams watches a play unfold as the Lakers square off against the Timberwolves of Northwood University in Allendale on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016.

Josh Peick

For the third time in the past four weekend series, the Grand Valley State women’s basketball team split against GLIAC opponents. The Lakers were upset by Northwood 60-53 Thursday, Jan. 12 and beat Lake Superior State 74-46 Saturday, Jan. 14.

In the first game of the weekend, the Lakers (11-4) GLIAC-best defense pitted against the GLIAC-best three-point shooting team Northwood. The GVSU defense planned to stop the Timberwolves three best shooters, but the rest of the team still managed to cause damage from behind the arc.

“We took away their three best shooters and they didn’t make threes, but everybody else did,” said GVSU coach Mike Williams.

The Timberwolves shot almost 43 percent from beyond the three-point line, distancing themselves from the Lakers. Northwood scored 20 points in the first quarter and 17 in the third to take an 11-point lead into the fourth quarter.

In the fourth, the Lakers cut the lead to as little as four but were unable to get any closer. Janae Langs finished the game with a team-high 14 points while Piper Tucker and Taylor Parmley each scored 11.

After the game, the Lakers had a team meeting to address the team’s current state after a loss to a .500 team in Northwood.

“We had a tough loss on Thursday, but then we came together and had a great team meeting,” said senior Taylor Lutz. “We talked about how much we appreciate each other and that really showed (against Lake Superior State) on the court.”

Right from the opening tipoff, the Lakers trounced on Lake Superior State and put the game out of reach early. In the first quarter, the Lakers sported a 20-3 lead, and by halftime led 33-12.

“We were more aggressive on the offensive end,” Williams said. “We really did a good job with the basketball. We took care of it and made great decisions.”

GVSU continued to pour on the points in the second half, scoring 41 points for a much needed 74-46 GLIAC win. Four different Lakers scored in the double digits with Lutz leading the pack with 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting.

“She was hunting shots, and I thought that freed up some more penetration and she got to the rim,” Williams said.

Langs and Bailey Cairnduff each added 11 points with Cairnduff shooting a perfect 3-for-3 from behind the arc. Freshman Jenn DeBoer also got into the mix, scoring a career-high 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting.

“(DeBoer) has a lot of energy and she’s a very talented freshman,” Langs said. “We have that trust in her that she can give (Lutz) and myself a break. The coaching staff trusts her that she can run the point when she’s out there.”

For the first time this season, only one GVSU player surpassed 30 minutes on the court in a single game this weekend. The Lakers have been riding their seven seniors with heavy minutes for the starters, but this weekend was the first time the bench received ample minutes in key situations in the game.

“We felt that we were wearing (the starters) out a bit, and we’re healthy again too,” Williams said. “We had stretches where we didn’t have as many bodies. Now we’re back healthy so it allows us to play a few more players.”

The win on Saturday gives the Lakers a 6-3 record in conference, and more importantly, a confidence boost heading into the rest of the season.

“It wasn’t just the win, it was the togetherness and we got back to who we were,” Lutz said. “We got excited for one another and that’s what we need to continue to do throughout the season.”

After a four-game road trip, the Lakers will return to home court to face off against two GLIAC opponents. GVSU will host Wayne State Thursday, Jan. 19 and rival and GLIAC North Division-leading Saginaw Valley State Saturday, Jan 21.