GVSU men’s basketball ends season with 73-65 loss to Lake Superior in GLIAC Tournament opener

GVL / Emily Frye 
Men’s Basketball vs Wayne State University at the DeltaPlex Arena on Thursday February 8, 2018.

GVL / Emily Frye Men’s Basketball vs Wayne State University at the DeltaPlex Arena on Thursday February 8, 2018.

Robbie Triano

So close.

That was the theme of this year’s Grand Valley State men’s basketball team. 

In just about every single contest this season, the Lakers always remained within striking distance of the other team. There was never a lack of heart or passion. It was clear the Lakers wanted to win.

But in the world of sports, the final score determines how successful you are, which is why this year has been so frustrating for a GVSU team that always looked like it was on the brink of breaking over the hump of success.

In the opening round of the GLIAC Tournament, the No. 7 seeded Lakers didn’t show an ounce of letting loose. But the No. 2 seeded Lake Superior State proved to be too much, topping the Lakers 73-65 on Wednesday, Feb. 28, in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.

With the loss, the Lakers are eliminated from postseason play, concluding their season. The final record for GVSU will stand at 14-15 overall (9-12 GLIAC).

“This team deserved a better fate,” said GVSU head coach Ric Wesley. “They showed up each and every night. Maybe it was talent, maybe it was coaching, but we just weren’t quite able to get to that next level.

“Ultimately, this team gave us a chance each and every game. I don’t find fault in their passion and drive. I appreciate everything this team has done this year.”

With this being their third showdown of the season, both teams knew exactly what to expect from each other. The Lakers won the first contest 66-62 on Thursday, Jan. 18, at home but fell in the second matchup 85-73 on Thursday, Feb. 22. 

Neither team could pull away from each other in the first half, as both GVSU and LSSU remained within 4 points of each other 15 minutes into regulation. Against LSSU’s offensive leader Akaemji Williams, GVSU point guard Chris Dorsey did a solid job guarding the 5-foot-9-inch guard. 

A problem that has plagued the Lakers this season has been getting into early foul trouble. The issue arose once again in the first half as five players—and three starters—headed into the halftime break with at least two fouls. 

Once GVSU had to rely on its bench, LSSU went on a 14-2 run in the final three minutes to close out the half. Walking into halftime, GVSU faced a 31-22 deficit to overcome in order to keep their season alive. 

“We played pretty good in the first half but just had bad flurries of turnovers and fouls that led them to grab that lead on us at halftime,” Wesley said.

The Lakers’ first-half troubles remained to start the second half, as LSSU found themselves up by 16 with 13:13 remaining. But just like every other game, the Lakers didn’t give in. 

“I just told them if they were able to get that type of a run on us, why can’t we do the same to them?” Wesley said.

The coach’s words were heard as GVSU went on a 19-8 run, finding themselves down 4 with 4:44 remaining. 

But just like many other times this season, the Lakers came up just short. LSSU made their shots when they needed to most over the GVSU defense. Final score: 73-65 in favor of the Lakers of LSSU.

“You just feel empty when games, and seasons, end like this,” Wesley said. “You’re so focused on the game … and then boom, it’s over. It’s so abrupt. It’s always tremendously sad to see your guys leaving.”