Defense hoists GVSU women’s basketball to undefeated home weekend

Dan Pacheco/GVL
Womens Basketball 12-6-18

Dan Pacheco/GVL Womens Basketball 12-6-18

Brady McAtamney

The No. 9 ranked Grand Valley State women’s basketball team picked up their 12th and 13th straight wins by beating the Saginaw Valley State Cardinals 64-46 on Thursday, Jan. 10 and the Northwood Timberwolves 67-51 on Saturday, Jan. 12. Both games began at 6 p.m. at GVSU’s Fieldhouse Arena, and both games extended the team’s streak of double digit wins, now at 12 consecutive as their record stands at 15-1 (8-0 GLIAC.) 

Both games followed a similar pattern: the Lakers’ offense lit up the scoreboard in the first quarter and the defense held their opponents under enough to offset the falloff of scoring in the latter three quarters. In fact, the halftime score of Thursday’s game was 36-16 compared to Saturday’s 35-19, and the first quarter scores were 22-7 against SVSU and 23-7 over Northwood. 

“I think it’s been a pattern in the last three or four games,” said GVSU head coach Mike Williams. “We’ve got out to a great start in that first quarter and then, I don’t know what it is, we spin a little bit and it’s hard to sustain that for four quarters, we know that, but it’s like ‘what can we do’ or ‘what do we need to do’ to continue to play good basketball for longer stretches.”

Fortunately for GVSU, their defense has remained good enough to stifle opponents, as the two wins marked the 10th and 11th times this season that Laker opponents were held to 51 points or less, netting them the seventh best scoring defense in Division II. 

“You really can’t get the steals, the blocks or anything without all five of us on the floor,” said guard Victoria Hedemark. “It really is a team effort. We may get the steal on the stat sheet but we can’t get it unless someone’s containing the dribble in front of them. It’s really a team effort.”

SVSU and NU combined for 38 turnovers and had 12 shots blocked while the Lakers grabbed 17 steals over the course of the two games. 

Where things differed between the two games was on offense. 

On Thursday, center Cassidy Boensch scored half of GVSU’s points with a career-high 32 on 13 makes while securing 10 rebounds. The Cardinals rarely brought double-teams to the post while Boensch worked the block, and it was not unnoticed by the star big. 

“Everything’s just a read whether they double me or not,” Boensch said. “Like fine, if they’re going to double me, I know my teammate’s going to knock down a shot. Just go at the person, but it just comes down to making the right read.”

Her scoring output was much needed as the Lakers shot a combined 2-19 from three in the game and nobody else surpassed eight points. 

Then, on Saturday, five different Lakers scored in double digits. Boensch led the way with 16 and was followed by forward Maddie Dailey (12), guard Natalie Koenig (11), Hedemark (11) and guard Taya Andrews (10). 

With several different scoring options comes ball movement, and GVSU netted 21 assists on 28 made shots with guard Jenn DeBoer leading the team with eight dimes. However, the spread came at a cost as they also committed 19 turnovers despite only five steals by the Timberwolves. 

“We’ve got to get better with the basketball and our players know it. It’s not like they’re coming in unaware of what’s going on,” Williams said. “They see that they’re decisions have got to be better, they work at it, this is a willing group. That’s the tough part. That means that it’s on our shoulders to fix it because they’ll do it, they’ll do whatever you ask them to do.”

The Lakers will now take to the road for five consecutive out-of-town games with conference opponents beginning with a trip to the Upper Peninsula on Thursday, Jan. 17 to face the Michigan Tech Huskies (10-6, 6-2) at 5:30 p.m. before visiting the Northern Michigan Wildcats (12-4, 7-1) on Saturday, Jan. 19 at 1 p.m.