Hot shooting leads men’s basketball to GLIAC sweep

GVL/Amalia Heichelbech
Junior forward Tony Peters prepares to lay on the defense during the Lakers match against Lake Superior State University.

Amalia Heichelbech

GVL/Amalia Heichelbech Junior forward Tony Peters prepares to lay on the defense during the Lakers’ match against Lake Superior State University.

Brady Fredericksen

Coming off their worst stretch of the season, the Grand Valley State University men’s basketball team members hoped a little home cooking could solve their oft-losing ways.

They were out-shot and out-rebounded in the first half on Saturday, but that home-court advantage gave GVSU enough as they took down visiting Lake Superior State University 75-63.

“It’s always good be at home,” said junior forward Tyrone Lee, who, along with his teammates, thanked the GVSU pep band after the game with a shower of high-fives. “You’re comfortable, you don‘t have to be on the road, on the bus, in the hotels … it’s just always good to play in frontof your home crowd.”

In a battle of the Lakers, GVSU (12-9, 8-6 GLIAC) used 13 points off nine turnovers to extend a one-point halftime lead to as much as 20 points in the second half.

Lake Superior State (10-11, 5-8 GLIAC), who beat GVSU 69-57 in their previous matchup, shot only 33.3 percent from the field in the second half. Lake Superior State played the majority of the game without senior guard Kyle Hunt, who played only seven minutes due to the flu. Despite that, GVSU forced the opposition into difficulties throughout the game.

Even with their second leading scorer’s absence, high-scoring Derek Billings scored 28 points, but 16 of those came from the free throw line as Billings’ shot only 5 of 12 from the field.

“Obviously, he‘s one of the top shooting guards in our conference,” said GVSU head coach Ric Wesley. “He had a lot of our attention, and we just tried to not let him have open shots because he is a deadeye shooter.”

Leading the scoring effort for GVSU were seniors James Thomas and Nick Waddell. Thomas dropped in 18 points and a gamehigh nine rebounds, while Waddell scored six of his 11 points in the second half.

“Nick has continued to be aggressive. As long as he stays out of foul trouble, he‘s usually an effective player,” Wesley said. “He’s had three good games in a row, really, I think his focus is a little bit better — I think he was putting too much pressure on himself.”

Waddell’s play, as well as that of freshman Ryan Sabin and junior Tyrone Lee, were a big part of GVSU’s success this week. Prior to Saturday’s game, the trio led GVSU to a 75-56 victory over Saginaw Valley State University on Thursday.

Waddell put together a career night against the Cardinals, scoring 26 points on 11-of-12 shooting, while also grabbing 10 rebounds. Lee grabbed seven rebounds on Thursday and added seven more to that total on Saturday.

Along with Waddell, the play of Sabin, who was recently taken out of the starting lineup, has helped to spark the offense. The freshman guard added 14 points in the first half against Saginaw Valley State, finishing with 18, and continued his strong play on Saturday, scoring 10 points while grabbing five rebounds.

“With experience, you obviously get better, but coach has been encouraging me to get to the hole more, which has helped me to get to the line a little,” Sabin said. “It’s kind of clicking for me.”

The Lakers will return to the court Thursday when they take on the GLIAC’s leading scorer Evan Yates and Ashland University at 8 p.m. in the GVSU Fieldhouse Arena.

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