GVL/ Rane Martin
Mens Basketball vs Bellarmine University

Rane Martin

GVL/ Rane Martin Men’s Basketball vs Bellarmine University

Brady Fredericksen

After falling behind by 15 points late in the first half on Saturday, it appeared the Grand Valley State University men’s basketball team was going to fall short in its attempt to upset defending national champion and No. 1-ranked Bellarmine University.

Despite a feverish scoring run at the end of the half, led by three consecutive 3-pointers by junior guard Josh Anderson, the Lakers (1-1) could not finish the job late in the second half and fell 70-67 to the visiting Knights (3-0).

“It’s usually a game of runs, and if you’re a decent team you’re going to get your runs in there somewhere,” said GVSU head coach Ric Wesley. “If that doesn’t happen, it’s over. (The run) was about the time we were settling down, and the shots that Josh got were good shots.”

After coming out strong to start the game, the Lakers’ timid play took over and before they knew it the Knights had extended their lead. GVSU struggled to counter Bellarmine’s perimeter shooting and paid for it as the visitors dropped in seven of 14 attempted 3-pointers in the half.

“I thought our guys competed pretty hard. When you play a team like that it tests your competitive fire and your toughness, and I thought, for the most part, we did OK on that,” Wesley said.

That competitive fire was ignited in the second half as the Lakers built on Anderson’s hot-shooting first half, eventually taking their first lead of the game at 44-43.

Senior guard and leading scorer James Thomas struggled, scoring only nine points on 4-of-11 shooting, but Anderson scored a career-high 14 points for the Lakers while junior point guard Breland Hogan added 14.

In contrast, Bellarmine was forced into perimeter shots throughout the second half and, unlike in the first half, struggled at just 1-of-10.

“We try to work our offense inside to out, so Coach is always telling us whenever you get a chance and can’t score, find others,” Hogan said. “In the first half we were timid, and in the second half we seized our opportunities to drive and it worked out.”

Those opportunities presented themselves frequently and were one of the main reasons for the Lakers’ comeback. After taking a one-point lead with just under four minutes to play, the offense stagnated and Bellarmine took advantage, jumping ahead 68-65 lead with 13 seconds to play.

The ensuing possession saw the Lakers come out of a timeout discombobulated, and Hogan stepped on the baseline before the team got a shot, turning it over with just six seconds left.

“The last possession, you know, there isn’t really an excuse for it,” said Hogan, who led the Lakers with four assists. “I didn’t know I stepped out of bounds, I knew the ball kind of slipped out of my hand, but I should have made the play.”

Despite the loss, GVSU will have seen that they can compete with one of the best teams in the country, and will be back on the court Saturday against Marygrove College at the Fieldhouse Arena.

“We just have to stay together and keep playing together as a team,” Anderson said. “Like our coach said, that team is a contender, they’re the No. 1 team in the nation for a reason. They’re right there and we’re not too far behind.”

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