GVSU stifles Malone, earns split in Ohio

GVL / Hannah Mico
Senior Rob Woodson (12) brings the ball up to score against Ashland (December 5).

GVL / Hannah Mico Senior Rob Woodson (12) brings the ball up to score against Ashland (December 5).

Jay Bushen

The Grand Valley State University men’s basketball team bounced back from a 75-66 loss at Walsh University on Thursday by getting back to what it does best.

GVSU led by as many as 30 points at Malone University on Saturday by using its bothersome defense to generate offense before eventually coming away with an 87-74 victory for its 10th win of the season.

“They struggled to score,” head coach Ric Wesley said. “They had a couple of shot clock violations where they couldn’t even get the shot off. A couple of other times they shot as the buzzer was sounding. They shot 22.2 percent in the first half, and we created pretty good offensive opportunities from that defense.”

The opportunistic Lakers forced 14 turnovers and converted them into 23 points.

Their unpredictable scoring attack seemed to keep Malone guessing.

Freshman forward Luke Ryskamp led the way with a career-high 17 points, while junior guard Ryan Sabin, junior forward Chaz Rollins and sophomore guard Darren Kapustka chipped in with 12 points apiece. Rollins collected a game-high nine rebounds, and sophomore forward Ricky Carbajal added eight points and six boards.

“It can be someone different every night,” Ryskamp said. “You have to be able to score when it’s your night, especially as we get further into GLIAC play and teams start to scout us a bit more.”

The balanced scoring yielded a much more desirable result for the team compared to its game at Walsh when Rollins and fifth-year senior guard Rob Woodson combined for 49 of its 66 points.

Woodson orchestrated the offense to the tune of nine points and five assists two days later against the Pioneers, and he said the team was just as unpredictable on its own side of the court with a combination of man-to-man, zone and press schemes.

“We play good team defense and we don’t have one defensive stopper,” he said. “Everybody helps each other and everybody knows their rotation. If we hustle around and get easy stops, we can get easier points. We really harp on our defense right now, and I think we can get even better.”

Woodson, Sabin and Kapustka combined for six steals in the game.

The quick-handed backcourt also did a nice job limiting All-GLIAC senior guard Isiah Elliot to 10 points, a season-low one assist and a season-high four turnovers.

“It comes down to two things: concentration and effort,” Wesley said. “If you have those things, you can almost play any type of defense. Today it was a mindset coming into the game. We were determined, focused and worked hard. We bent our knees, had good stance, vision and tenacity, and our defense was effective.”

GVSU (10-2, 6-2 GLIAC) will head to the Upper Peninsula to take on Northern Michigan University on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. and Michigan Technological University on Saturday at 3 p.m.