GVSU basketball defeated twice by Michigan Tech, Northern Michigan

GVL / Sheila Babbitt

GVL / Sheila Babbitt

Kellen Voss

The Grand Valley State men’s basketball team came away from their road trip to the Upper Peninsula with two more losses, losing to Michigan Tech in overtime 91-87 on Thursday, Jan. 17, before losing to Northern Michigan 71-61 on Saturday, Jan. 19.

Thursday’s game against the Huskies looked destined for a Laker victory in the beginning as GVSU held a lead over MTU for almost the entire first half, concluding the period with a commanding 40-28 lead thanks in part to Hunter Hale and Jeremiah Ferguson, who combined for 21 points and four assists in the opening twenty minutes.

While the strong start was great to see for GVSU, it was not sustained and fundamentally sound play down the stretch for MTU helped the Huskies pick up a victory.

“We played as good as we can play in that first half, but you know they’re going to make a comeback at their place,” said head coach Ric Wesley. “But a couple bounces of the ball didn’t go our way. They got the stops when they needed to and hit all their free throws , so they didn’t give us a crack in the dam to get the victory.”

MTU hit all eight of their free throws and and had four players tally double digits points in the second half en route to victory, and while the hot start was encouraging to see for GVSU, a few close plays and close calls got the better of them on Thursday.

Hale led the team with 21 points in the loss, with Ferguson leading all Lakers with eight rebounds and five assists to go along with 16 points. Jake Van Tubbergen also contributed 19 points in the contest.

While a strong first half was a highlight for Thursday’s game, Saturday’s game against NMU was the opposite, as the Lakers fell behind by double digits 14 minutes in and the team, as Wesley put it, couldn’t dig themselves out of their own grave.

“I don’t think we came out very good, and we put ourselves in a hole,” Wesley said “We didn’t quite have enough down the stretch, because we just didn’t get enough solid play from enough guys to get it done on the road.”

Even though he was disappointed with many of his players’ performances in that second half, Wesley thought Van Tubbergen played outstanding down the stretch, posting nine of his 16 points and all seven of his rebounds in the final twenty minutes.

After this week, the Lakers now sit at 11-7 on the year, with a .500 record in the conference. Wesley says they learned a lot about themselves this week, especially regarding the importance of hustle and consistency on the defensive end.

“Every possession is big, so you really got to stick your nose in and win the one-on-one battles for space,” Wesley said. “We can’t take possessions off. We have to dive on the floor for loose balls and box out on free throws, because every loss comes down to a couple points here or there.”

The Lakers have a week before they travel to Caledonia to face the Davenport Panthers on Saturday, Jan. 26 at 3 p.m., and in order to avoid another three-game losing streak, Wesley wants his guys to focus on improving on all the little things in practice, especially when it comes to protecting their own basket.

“It’s obviously all about defensive tenacity and determination,” Wesley said. “We just have to dig in and get stops, since our defense is not consistent enough to give us a chance to pull away from anybody.”