GVSU buries 13 triples in home opener

GVL/Kevin Sielaff
#11 Piper Tucker

GVL/Kevin Sielaff #11 Piper Tucker

Steven Garber

The Grand Valley State women’s basketball team opened its season with an emphatic win over Rochester College on Monday in what looked to be a record-breaking night early on.

The Lakers poured it on the Warriors from the beginning from downtown en route to an 87-31 victory. GVSU’s offense – ignited by its ability to strike from deep – was sparked in the team’s first two possessions with 3-pointers from Piper Tucker and Kat LaPrairie.

Nearly two minutes later, 3s from Taylor Lutz and Brionna Barnett helped set the tone for the first half. The offense benefitted from an elevated 52.9 percent on 9-17 shooting from distance in the first half, thanks in part by excellent ball movement.

“We have a variety of young ladies who can take the ball and make us explode up the floor on offense…It’s vital to our success,” said coach Janel Burgess.

An early 22-1 lead gave GVSU’s offense room to be creative and aggressive. LaPraire and Barnett – the Lakers equivalent to Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors – shot the lights out at the Fieldhouse Arena. Both players were 3-3 from the perimeter at the break.

“Those two got good, wide open shots,” said freshman Korynn Hincka. “We made sure we passed the ball and looked for the open shot.”

Five scorers rocketed at least one shot in from behind the arc before the break, and the Lakers stretched their lead to 38 before the halftime buzzer paused the rout.

“Our energy was really high. We had communication on the bench. We had communication on the court and we came out ready to play,” Hincka said.

The team was on pace to catch the single game record for threes (16), set back in January 2007. But GVSU eased off on the 3-point shooting, taking eight fewer shots from behind the arc and shooting 4-11 in the second half. They finished shooting 46.4 (13-28) percent from 3-point land.

The Warriors offense couldn’t get anything going from outside in the first half, missing their first eight from 3, and continued struggling, shooting just 15.8 percent from deep.

The Lakers got consistent production from nearly everyone in the lineup as they moved the ball well with 21 assists. GVSU’s bench scored 52 of its 87 total points every Laker found her way into the scoring column.

“Everyone’s a scorer on our team, so anyone can just pull up at any moment,” Tucker said. “It puts opposing team on their toes. Who is going to make the next shot?”

Barnett came off the bench to lead her team in assists (4) and in scoring (14) with LaPrairie. Lindsay Baker tallied eight points and four rebounds coming off the bench. Janae Langs also netted both of her attempts from behind the arc and contributed off the bench with 10 points and four rebounds.

One of the most significant contributions of the night, though, came from Hincka, who was the beneficiary of a few second-chance opportunities she created by outworking Rochester on the boards.

“Korynn’s a firecracker coming off the bench,” Tucker said. “She’s just really aggressive. I think it’s one of the best performances I’ve seen from a freshman.”

Hincka tallied five offensive rebounds to go along with the eight defensive. With 13 rebounds and 10 points, Hincka – in the first official game of her young career – was the only Laker to tally a double-double against Rochester.

“Korynn’s got the ability to be able to change a lot of different possessions for us,” Burgess said. “I still think she has more in her than that, but she did have a very, very good showing.”

Burgess put an emphasis on rebounding coming into this one. Defensively, GVSU limited the Warrior possessions by forcing 19 turnovers and only giving up three offensive rebounds in the game.

GVSU doubled Rochester’s rebounding total 51-25. The Lakers capitalized off 16 offensive rebounds to score 16 second-chance points.

“I thought we pursued balls consistently for 40 minutes unlike the Michigan State game,” Burgess said.

“We will continue to focus on rebounding and just really honing in on our defensive strategy because it’s huge for us to create our transition offense that we thrive on.”

The Lakers got big performances from starters LaPrairie and Tucker. LaPrairie totaled 14 points, four rebounds, and two assists while shooting 4-5 from the perimeter. Tucker tallied six rebounds, three assists, four steals and a block to go along with her nine points on 4-6 shooting.

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