GVSU women’s hoops beats Northwood 68-55 in first round of GLIAC Tournament

Josh Peick

In the first round of the GLIAC Tournament, the No. 3-seeded Grand Valley State women’s basketball team faced off against No. 6 seed Northwood at home. After splitting two games against the Timberwolves in the regular season, the Lakers beat Northwood 68-55 to advance to the GLIAC Tournament Semifinals.

The Lakers got off to a slow start. Northwood lead for most of the opening quarter, but GVSU claimed a 15-11 lead by the quarter’s end.

The GVSU offense found a rhythm in the second quarter, scoring 22 points and taking a 37-30 lead heading into halftime.

“We made good decisions,” said GVSU coach Mike Williams. “We got good shots, we made our shots and we attacked the rim.”

The points continued to pour in during the third quarter. The Lakers scored 19 points while only allowing 11 points from the Timberwolves.

With one minute remaining in the third quarter, senior Taylor Lutz stepped up to the free throw line for two shots when the power in the field house cut out. The delay lasted a few minutes before play continued.

“I’ve been working on my free throws, and actually over the weekend I was working on shooting with my eyes closed,” Lutz said. “I was actually better that way so I was thinking maybe I should just shoot this one (with the lights out).”

With the power back on, GVSU claimed a 15-point lead heading into the final quarter. Senior Piper Tucker broke the double-digit point margin in the third quarter on her way to a game-high 16 points.

“All my shots were open because my teammates penetrated and drew my defender to them,” Tucker said. “My teammates created my shots for me.”

In the fourth quarter, the Lakers grabbed a 19-point lead halfway through the quarter and then cruised to a 13-point victory. Four Lakers scored in double digits, including Lutz and Janae Langs with 11 points along with 10 points from Taylor Parmley.

“We were just playing together,” Lutz said. “It didn’t matter who was getting the buckets. It was just move the ball and whoever has the open shot, shoot it.”

GVSU allowed only 55 Northwood points, but Northwood’s post player Jordyn Nurenberg torched the Lakers for 32 points.

The Lakers secured a rematch with No. 2 seed Saginaw Valley State, another team with a dangerous post player, in the GLIAC Tournament Semifinals. A key to the Lakers success will be their ability to slow down SVSU’s Emily Wendling.

“Get on them early,” Tucker said. “Get their confidence down, maybe foul trouble, anything. Find a way. Whatever we can do to get their post out of the game.”

The Lakers split two games against the Cardinals in the regular season with the home team winning in each game. The Lakers beat the Cardinals 63-57 at home before losing 68-65 in Saginaw.

“They are a veteran team,” Williams said. “Like us, they have been here before. They have a great combination with a great post player and a great point guard. They can really score the basketball.”

In the Lakers’ loss to the Cardinals, the GVSU defense held Wendling to only eight points, but three other players scored in double digits. While the Lakers have lessons learned from the two previous meetings this season, the players understand the postseason is a completely different story.

“They’re a great team and it’s always good to go against them again,” Lutz said. “It’s tournament time. Records are over and we’re both 1-0 right now.”

The Lakers will play the Cardinals Saturday, March 4, at 4 p.m. at Ashland. The winner will play Sunday, March 5, against the winner of the other semifinal matchup between No. 1 Ashland and No. 4 Michigan Tech.