GVSU women’s basketball starts out strong with two wins

<p>GVL / Dan Pacheco</p>

GVL / Dan Pacheco

Kellen Voss

The Grand Valley State women’s basketball season opened their season on Friday, Nov. 9 and Saturday, Nov. 10 and picked up two wins at home, beating Maryville on Friday 74-50 before throttling Missouri-St. Louis 87-44.

GVSU was able to shake off the first game jitters with a solid win over the Maryville Saints to open their season 1-0. Senior guard Jenn DeBoer led the Lakers with 21 points on 9-12 shooting, with center Cassidy Boensch and guard Natalie Koenig chipping in 18 and 13 points, respectively. 

Despite winning the game by a large margin, the Lakers struggled to score in the first half, only putting up 30 points. That offense finally came alive in the third quarter, as the Lakers’ offense exploded to score 24 points in the third quarter. Head coach Mike Williams loved the adjustments his team were able to make in that second half.

“I thought we were deferring a little bit in the first half, trying to turn corners, trying to get to the basket. I thought we did a better job of that in the second half getting Cassidy (Boensch) some deeper touches on that block where she’s able to turn and score it instead of going through contact,” Williams said. “I just think we were more relaxed the second half. We were so wound up that first half. At halftime we got a chance to get a deep breath and I feel we played that way.”

Keeping their opponents off the free-throw line is a signature of GVSU’s defense, as they held the Saints to only five trips to the charity stripe. Williams is proud of how his team played physical, controlled defense in Friday’s contest.

“We just don’t foul. That’s one of our things in practice,” Williams said. “We preach it all the time, we keep spaces, we get our hands off, we don’t try to block shots because teams shoot 75 percent from the free throw line and they shoot 34 percent from the floor so they’ve got double the chance to make it from the free throw line, so we just don’t want them there. We really work on that.”

GVSU’s leading scorer in the game thought confidence was a big key to the Laker victory, as a few made shots in the second half helped the Lakers open the floodgates and drown the Saints defensively.

“As coach was saying, we’re more confident on the offensive end and we just had our defense lead to more offense,” DeBoer said. “So I think when we started making more shots it just kind of spiraled.”

It was more of the same for GVSU the following day, as the Lakers almost doubled Missouri-St Louis’ score, beating the Tritons 87-44. Boensch lead that game in scoring, pouring in 24 points, including 16 in the first half. DeBoer, Koenig and Taya Andrews also scored in double digits.

Williams thought the Lakers looked even better on Saturday compared to Friday, playing like “Energizer bunnies” and driving more aggressively on offense.

“We were a little more assertive on the offensive end than we were in our opening game, which was good,” Williams said. “I thought defensively, we tried to keep them in front and off the free-throw line and we did a pretty good job of that, we played with more energy and we were more vocal.”

Although the Lakers did have to play twice in the span of 30 hours, that didn’t stop them from picking up two wins, as Boensch said the adrenaline of opening weekend kept the team going.

“We were really excited about this opening weekend and got to play at home, which is a lot of fun,” Boensch said. “We were just excited to come out and play a couple games, especially in the second half when we brought more intensity.”

With the pair of wins, the Lakers begin the season 2-0. Despite the hot start, Boensch still feels like the team needs to improve in a few more areas.

“We need to start out with that same intensity, and just try to hit it right from the beginning,” Boensch said. “I think we can totally do that, we just we need to make sure we’re always at that same level.”

The Lakers look to pick up two more wins this weekend, as they hit the road to play Lewis on Friday, Nov. 16 before facing Indianapolis on Sunday, Nov. 18. Friday’s game is set to tip off at 8 p.m., while Sunday’s contest starts at 1 p.m.