GVSU vs. Northern Michigan recap

GVL Archive / Andrew Mills
Junior Alvin Storrs drives the lane during a past performance.

GVL Archive / Andrew Mills Junior Alvin Storrs drives the lane during a past performance.

Brady Fredericksen

Coming off their first GLIAC loss of the season, the Grand Valley State University men’s basketball team defeated a feisty Northern Michigan University team Thursday night, 72-60.

The Lakers (9-1 GLIAC, 14-3 overall) – coming off a 68-60 loss at No. 3 Hillsdale – started sluggish against the visiting Wildcats, but pulled together mid-way through the second half to secure their 12th straight home win.

After starting the game slow offensively, GVSU found itself in a back-and-forth battle with NMU’s athletic line-up. Playing without junior center Nick Waddell, the Lakers looked to freshman Asauhn Tatum and an array of double teams and zone defenses to slow down NMU’s 6-foot-11-inch center, Jared Benson.

“You can’t guard Benson with one guy, you’ve got to bring two and sometimes three guys into his area and try to help on him,” said GVSU head coach Ric Wesley. “I thought our guys did a pretty good job concentrating on him, but to their credit I thought the other guys on their team really stepped up.”

Thursday’s game was eerily similar to the two team’s matchup in December, a 61-52 GVSU win. Without Waddell, the Lakers’ interior depth was tested by Northern Michigan’s attack of the basket, but the combination of Tatum, Nick Carreri (five rebounds), and Corey Jones held Benson to only 11 points.

“Tonight I thought Nick Carreri gave us some really good minutes, both offensively and particularly defensively, I thought he was really tough against Benson,” Wesley said. “I thought Corey Jones – for someone who hasn‘t had an opportunity to play a lot – got eight good minutes in there defensively.”

Offensively, GVSU struggled from three-point range in the first half, shooting only 4-of-14 from downtown. Despite his team’s shooting-struggles, senior guard K’Len Morris had his way with the Northern Michigan’s defense, making two of his team-high four threes in the first half.

“We’re a team that feeds off each other, so you’ve just got to feed the hot hand,” said Morris, who shot 4-6 for the game. “As a shooter, it’s just nice to get into a rhythm.”

One of the turning points in the half came in the last two minutes. The Wildcats put together a 9-0 run to cut the Lakers’ lead to one. The run – capped off by a DeAndre Taylor alley-oop jam – didn’t rattle the Lakers. Following a pair of Justin Ringler jumpers, Northern Michigan cut the lead to two points on a three-pointer with seven seconds left.

Ringler passed to junior Alvin Storrs, who raced down the court and missed his initial lay-up, but found a way to grab the offensive rebound and put back the miss at the buzzer, giving the Lakers a four point half-time lead.

“We knew after that (first) half that we had to come out harder and come out better,” said Storrs, who finished with team-highs in points (16) and rebounds (eight). “It wasn‘t as much the last basket for us as it was the last three-pointer for them that motivated us to get more stops.”

The second half proved refreshing for GVSU as they came out firing. Led by their 2-3 zone and the scoring duo of Morris and Storrs, the Lakers extended a 7 point lead to a 19 point lead with a 17-5 run beginning at 9:54 in the second.

The Wildcats made one last run at the Lakers in the second half, cutting the 19 point lead to nine with under 8 minutes left, but after five-straight Storrs points and a James Thomas three-pointer, the Lakers locked up the win.
The win kept the Lakers in first-place in the GLIAC North Division. The team will return to the court Saturday for a home date against Michigan Technological University at 1 p.m.

Game Notes:

Waddell, who missed Thursday’s game with a knee injury, does not have a time-table for his return. The injury – suffered during practice on Tuesday – has yet to be diagnosed and the severity is still unknown. According to Wesley, Waddell will go for an MRI sometime today.

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