GVSU women’s basketball splits season-opening series

GVL / Emily Frye
(#12) Meryl Cripe

GVL / Emily Frye (#12) Meryl Cripe

Beau Troutman

The Grand Valley State women’s basketball team opened its season with the GLIAC/GLVC Challenge held at Quincy University over the weekend. The Lakers played Truman State on Saturday and tournament-host Quincy on Sunday.

The new era under head coach Mike Williams started off on a solid note, as the Lakers split the weekend series with a 77-61 win over TSU and a slim 62-60 loss to Quincy.

“We just need to play a full 40 minutes,” said junior forward Piper Tucker. “We slacked in a couple of the minutes in the quarters, so if we put a full 40 together we’ll definitely win both of those next time on the road.”

In the first game, the Lakers won convincingly thanks to 16-point performances from Brionna Barnett and Kayla Dawson. Barnett also led the team with five assists, while Dawson led on the defensive side with four steals.

Four Lakers scored in double figures, thanks to Taylor Parmley and Taylor Lutz scoring 13 and 12 points, respectively. The TSU Bulldogs never led in the game and didn’t have any answers for the Lakers’ offense. Sophomore guard Courtney Strait was the lone bright spot for TSU, scoring 18 points on 6-of-9 shooting.

Williams said the first win as the Laker head coach felt good, and was an important first step.

“I thought we did what we needed to do with (Truman State),” he said. “I thought we did a lot of good things. It was good to get the first win… for the players to get that opening win with a new coach, because its different for them.”

The Lakers dropped the second game of the weekend, but fought until the end. GVSU and QU were evenly matched, going toe-to-toe in almost every category. The two essentially split the amount of time with a lead, as the Lakers led for 17:19, while the Hawks led for 15:23.

“I thought we got the looks we wanted to get,” Williams said. “I thought on the defensive end, we’ve just got to be more disciplined to get stops. Obviously, I need to do a better job in practice in preparing our kids to do that.”

Defense was the emphasis in the offseason for a team that struggled defensively last season, and Williams said it’s a process the team is both enduring and still investing in.

“I think they’re really working at it,” he said. “I think the players are buying into it, they want to do it. I think they understand that if we can do this, with how good our offense is, we can be pretty good.”

Defense was no problem for Quincy, which forced 13 turnovers and held the Lakers to 32.8 percent from the field. The Hawks effectively took Barnett out of the game, holding her to 2-of-11 shooting with only eight points, and forcing the rest of the Lakers to step up.

“They were not going to let her beat us,” Williams said. “They put a big dent on her. Any time she penetrated, she drew one or two help-defenders. She really drew a lot of attention today.”

Redshirt junior Bailey Cairnduff was one Laker to step up. Cairnduff started her first two games for the Lakers after an injury ended her season last year. She was one of three Lakers with 13 points. Despite the loss, she was happy to be back.

“It feels better than ever, and I appreciate every single moment that I get to play with this team,” Cairnduff said. “I love this team so much. It’s just a blessing being able to play every single day.”

The Lakers’ home-opener is Thursday, when they will host Indiana University-Northwest at 7 p.m.