GVSU men’s basketball blazes past Wayne State, Saginaw Valley State

GVL/Kevin Sielaff - Chris Dorsey (14) drives the ball up the court during the game inside the Fieldhouse Arena as Grand Valley squares off against SVSU on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017. The Lakers took the victory with a final score of 80-71.

Kevin Sielaff

GVL/Kevin Sielaff – Chris Dorsey (14) drives the ball up the court during the game inside the Fieldhouse Arena as Grand Valley squares off against SVSU on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017. The Lakers took the victory with a final score of 80-71.

Beau Troutman

The Grand Valley State men’s basketball team put the GLIAC on notice this weekend.

The Lakers started with an “emotional roller-coaster” victory over the Wayne State Warriors, 63-56 Thursday, Jan. 19, and then ended the weekend with an 80-71 win over rival Saginaw Valley State Saturday, Jan. 21. Both games were played in Allendale.

The latter contest—as well as the women’s basketball win over SVSU earlier in the day—was played in front of a national audience, as the game was broadcast live by the American Sports Network (ASN). The games were live in certain areas, and were shown tape-delayed Sunday night on ASN.

The Lakers improved their record to 12-6 (8-3 GLIAC), which puts them in a three-way tie for second place overall in the conference with Findlay and Michigan Tech.

“Feeling great,” said GVSU coach Ric Wesley. “What a great week. Two great games, great atmosphere, we really appreciate our fans. Really surprised we were able to come back (against SVSU) and have the kind of energy and effort that we had after Thursday’s game. That was a tough game.”

The Lakers got production from star players and reserves alike—eight players played 10 minutes or more in both contests. Several different Lakers made clutch highlight plays that swung the outcome in GVSU’s favor.

In the first game against the Warriors, the score was tied 56-56 with 90 seconds remaining after GVSU center Drake Baar split a pair of free throws.

Warriors’ guard Ronald Booth attempted to take the lead with a jump shot at the other end, but the shot was off-target, and Lakers’ point guard Myles Miller grabbed the rebound.

On the Lakers’ next possession, reserve guard Chris Dorsey drove the ball down toward the left-baseline with under a minute left in the game. Dorsey was double-teamed, and kicked the ball out to senior Luke Ryskamp, who was wide open in the corner. Ryskamp let the 3-pointer fly and nailed it with just 44 seconds in the game.

“I told Chris earlier in the game, ‘if you’re driving, they’re doubling,’” Ryskamp said. “That’s exactly what they did, he kicked it to me and it’s just the flow of the game. Doesn’t matter if you’ve missed one or two, you’ve got to shoot that one.”

That wouldn’t be the last of Dorsey. The Warriors, trailing 59-56, still had an opportunity to tie the game with a three. After a timeout, Booth again brought the ball up-court, and was guarded by Dorsey.

Booth briefly lost control of the ball near the three-point line, and Dorsey sprung into action. He dove for the ball and got tangled up with Booth, forcing the referees to call a jump-ball—the arrow was in favor of GVSU, and the Lakers regained possession with 23 seconds left.

“He put the ball in front of me, I saw an opportunity and I just took it,” Dorsey said. “I knew we had to have that play.”

That forced the Warriors to intentionally foul, putting the Lakers a couple free throws away from a win.

Miller sank two free throws, and after a Warriors missed shot, senior Trevin Alexander saved the ball from going out of bounds and threw a football pass to Dorsey at the other end of the court, who dunked the ball as the buzzer sounded—Ryskamp and Dorsey said Wesley wasn’t upset about that finishing touch.

“I think he was happy about it, to tell you the truth,” Ryskamp said.

Ryskamp led all scorers with 21 points, and shot 11-of-12 from the charity strike. He also had 17 points against SVSU.

In the second game against the Cardinals, Alexander had his best game of the season. He scored a career-high 25 points on 10-of-12 shooting, eight rebounds and two blocks. He played 36 minutes after playing 37 in the previous game.

Alexander hit a 3-pointer with just under two minutes left to give the Lakers a 70-63 advantage. The Cardinals answered with a layup from CJ Turnage to cut their deficit to five.

With a minute remaining in the game, the Cardinals had the ball and moved it around the arc. It eventually landed in the hands of Mike Wells, who was wide open, but missed, keeping the Laker lead at five points.

With the clock ticking under a minute, the Lakers had a shot to put the Cardinals away for good. Miller cut to the right of the basket, but was met by the Cardinals’ defense. He kicked the ball back to GVSU senior Juwan Starks, who was open for a deep 3-pointer on the right side of the arc.

Starks had zero points up to that point and was slowed by an ankle injury that forced him to miss Thursday’s game. He lifted up and fired the shot—ice cold, nothing but net. That bucket extended the lead to eight points, and put the Cardinals out of reach with 36 seconds left in the game.

“My teammates have a lot of confidence in me,” Starks said. “I wasn’t able to play on Thursday, so they just kept telling me to shoot it and be more aggressive.”

The Lakers are now preparing for trip up to the Upper Peninsula to take on Michigan Tech Thursday, Jan. 26, and then will play at Northern Michigan Saturday, Jan. 28.

Alexander says they’ll be ready.

“We won this week,” he said. “That’s our goal—win one game, win the second game, win the week.”