Lakers beat SVSU, Northwood on final road trip of the season

GVL / Sheila Babbitt basketball games on Feb 9th, 2019

GVL / Sheila Babbitt basketball games on Feb 9th, 2019

Kellen Voss

After a rather rough week, the Grand Valley State men’s basketball team got things back on track this week in their final road trip of the season, beating Saginaw Valley State 81-64 on Thursday, Feb. 14 before defeating Northwood two days later with 67-63.

The double-digit win for the Lakers on Thursday marks their second time beating the Cardinals this season, sweeping SVSU and continuing to rise to victory in the ‘Battle of the Valleys’. 

The total team effort on Valentine’s Day helped lead the Lakers to victory, as 22 points from Jake Van Tubbergen, 19 from Hunter Hale and 17 from Jeremiah Ferguson helped crush the hearts of Cardinal fans.

Wins this late in the season are essential for GVSU, being that they are stuck smack dab in the middle of the GLIAC. Ending the season with strong wins such as this can help the Lakers earn momentum and secure their spot in the GLIAC tournament and keep their playoff dreams alive.

“We’re excited to get any GLIAC win, especially on the road,” said head coach Ric Wesley. “We had a tough week last week, but we came back strong this week, and it made me feel like we still got a lot of fight left in us.”

That fight and desire to win carried over into Saturday’s win against Northwood. Although the Lakers finished the first half down 10 points, they dug themselves out of that hole effectively thanks to holding the Timberwolves to 33 percent shooting in the second half and making all their key free throws down the stretch.

“We haven’t always played well late in games, but we certainly have been as of late. We were really outstanding late, with Hunter (Hale) going six-for-six at the line down the stretch,” Wesley said. 

“Our defense was really the story of the day, because when our offense sputtered, our defense kept us in it and gave us a chance.”

Van Tubbergen had another solid game against Northwood, tallying 14 points and seven rebounds to go along with 21 points from Hale to lead the Lakers to victory. Despite having a bit of roller coaster year, Wesley is excited to the reigning GLIAC Freshman of the Year develop into a key player for GVSU late in games.

“Jake has had a good week for us,” Wesley said. “In the second semester of his sophomore year, hopefully this is the time things kick in and it all comes together for him, as he was able to get us tough buckets down the stretch.”

With the two wins, GVSU improves to 14-11 on the year and 8-9 in the conference and look to improve that on that record this week with two more key GLIAC matchups, as they head back home to play Northern Michigan on Thursday, Feb. 21 before facing Michigan Tech on Saturday, Feb. 23.

“It’s February, so it’s not the time of year you want to be searching for answers,” Wesley said. “Hopefully we can keep the momentum coming back home, we got a nice stretch at the end with our students and fans behind us, and it’s important to end the season on a strong note.”

Thursday’s game will be military appreciation night, as the game will start at 8 p.m. Michigan Tech’s game will feature the Lakers going back in time to be the Sawyers for the weekend, as they will tip-off with Michigan Tech at 3 p.m.