GVSU men’s basketball drops both games during Thanksgiving Florida trip

GVL / Matt Read GVSU Basketball takes on Grace for their second home game of the season.

GVL / Matt Read GVSU Basketball takes on Grace for their second home game of the season.

Robbie Triano

While most students spent their Thanksgiving break stuffing their face with food, taking a well-needed rest from academics and catching up with old friends, the Grand Valley State men’s basketball team spent their break still competing on the courts.

Although the team wasn’t able to be home with their families for Thanksgiving, the Lakers traveled down to Miami Shores, Fla. to compete in the Barry Invitational against Lynn University Friday, Nov. 24 and No. 8 ranked host-school Barry University Saturday, Nov. 25. 

The Florida temperatures reached the high 80s during the trip, but the heat didn’t warm up the team’s success as the Lakers went 0-2 during the two game invitational. GVSU fell in the final seconds for a 69-68 loss to Lynn University, while nationally ranked Barry University took care of the Lakers by a convincing 94-69 score.

After winning three of their first four contests the team headed down to the “Sunshine State” on Tuesday, Nov. 21 with confidence in their offense, but they knew their work on the defensive end and playing hard the full 40 minutes needed some sharpening heading into the trip.

“This time last year we led the nation in defensive field-goal percentage,” said senior center Drake Baar. “We need to get back to where we were then. It comes down to playing together, which is something we’ve been doing offensively, but needs help on the defensive end.”

After the opening tip-off against Lynn, both teams battled back-and-forth for footing of the lead until the three minutes left in the half when the Lakers found themselves up 27-20 as sophomore guard Ben Lubitz went 2-2 from behind the three-point line for 7 first-half points. GVSU headed into the halftime break with a 30-27 lead against Fighting Knights.

GVSU started the second half off hot, as they took an 12 point lead, the largest in the game, after redshirt-sophomore Hunter Hale scored a fastbreak three pointer with 13:22 left in regulation to give the Lakers a 47-35 advantage. Hale finished the contest with a team-high 17 points, making six of his eleven field goal attempts.

But that lead would only get slimmer, as Lynn began chipping away at the Lakers’ lead by attacking the basket to draw multiple shooting fouls. Lynn took the lead with 4:48 remaining in the second half after a made three pointer put the Fighting Knights up 60-59.

Both teams battled back-and-forth for the lead until senior guard Myles Miller hit a jumper to put the Lakers up 68-67 with 12 seconds remaining in regulation and one defensive stand left.

However, the Lakers tried to hold Lynn from scoring the game-winning basket, but in doing so fouled the Fighting Knights on a shot, resulting in two free throws. Lynn’s Jamal Palmer nailed both shots to hand GVSU a 69-68 loss, their second of the season. 

During the contest, GVSU only shot 37 percent from the field, compared to Lynn’s 43 percent clip. But to counteract their misses, the Lakers big men and overall height collected 43 total rebounds, 19 of them being offensive compared to Lynn’s six. Standouts included Myles Miller (11 points), Lubitz (9 points), junior Zach West (5 points, five rebounds and two steals) and senior Chris Dorsey (6 points, six rebounds and four assists).

The contest against No. 8 ranked Barry went south early for GVSU, as the team went into halftime down 50-28. The second half showed much more success for the Lakers, but not enough to pull themselves out of their early deficit. By the final buzzer, the Lakers had lost to Barry 94-69 to put their overall record at an even 3-3 on the season.

West and junior center Justin Greason both tied for a team-high 11 points, while Greason also collected nine rebounds. Baar scored 9 points and six rebounds.

The road competition doesn’t stop for the Lakers, as the team will travel to Wayne State University to face the Warriors in their first taste of GLIAC play Thursday, Nov. 30 in Detroit, Mich.