GVSU women’s hoops splits GLIAC series

Kayla Dawson, junior, jumps to make a basket in the Women’s Basketball game on Dec. 3 in Allendale, MI.

Kasey Garvelink

Kayla Dawson, junior, jumps to make a basket in the Women’s Basketball game on Dec. 3 in Allendale, MI.

Beau Troutman

The Grand Valley State women’s basketball team (5-2, 1-1 GLIAC) looked to put the first mark in the loss column for undefeated Ashland (5-0, 1-0 GLIAC) on Thursday night in the first game of a two-game homestead, including a game against Lake Erie (4-3, 1-1 GLIAC) on Saturday.

Despite GVSU having a four-point lead with a little over three minutes left in the game, Ashland’s advantage inside proved too be too much for the Lakers in a 72-65 loss.

“I thought we battled,” said GVSU head coach Mike Williams. “We talked about finishing plays, finishing games, finishing possessions, and I thought we had a chance with 3:20 to go when we were up four, but we didn’t finish.”

The Lakers were out-rebounded 51-36, and had no answer for the Eagles’ Laina Snyder, who led the team with 16 points and 18 boards.

“I thought tonight we got pushed around a little bit,” Williams said. “It’s a good lesson for us.”

One player for the Lakers who didn’t get pushed around was forward Kayla Dawson, who led all scorers with 26 points on 10-19 shooting. She was one of only two Lakers to score in double figures, the other being Piper Tucker (10 points), who was in foul trouble early.

Laker senior Brionna Barnett had a tough night, as she totaled only nine points on 4-of-19 shooting. While the Lakers failed to get an all-around performance on the offensive end, Dawson says it was the rebounding that did them in.

“We lost the boards battle. Offensively, we just weren’t crashing the boards as hard as we normally do. Even on the defensive end, they were getting opportunities there, so they kind of out-hustled us, and that’s where we have to be our best,” she said.

The Lakers rebounded literally and figuratively on Saturday, and came away with a 70-54 win against Lake Erie, thanks to a team total of 21 offensive boards.

“We were more active,” Williams said. “Some of what Lake Erie did lends itself to (getting rebounds). They want to trap you and double you, so there’s more movement going towards the basket, and so I think players were in there, got really active and made plays.”

The Lakers jumped out to a 24-8 lead in the first quarter, but cooled down considerably in the second quarter. Lake Erie was able to bring it back within five points with 3:36 left in before the break, and GVSU took a 37-30 lead into the half.

The second half was more Laker-friendly, as GVSU outscored Lake Erie 33-24. Barnett led the way with 15 second-half points on 5-6 shooting after scoring only four points in the first half.

Piper Tucker had 11 points, seven rebounds and four steals in a good all-around performance.

“Just sticking together was a big thing,” Barnett said. “I think during Ashland’s game, we kind of got away from each other a little bit and just trusting each other, so I think that was the key.”

The Lakers needed the big performance from their senior point guard, who has been singled out by opposing defenses early on.

“We talked to her and we just said, ‘Hey, you’re fine. Shots are going to fall some games, some they aren’t,'” Williams said. “But I thought with her, her demeanor was real good, she didn’t waver and get down on herself when things didn’t go well, and that’s why she played well.”

Lake Erie had three players score in double figures. Kaylor Gabor dropped 15, Kaeding Skelton scored 13 and Sami Narducci added 12. The rest of the team only scored a combined 14 points.

Next weekend, the Lakers will take to the road for two games in Ohio. On Friday they’ll take on Tiffin, followed by a game against Ohio Dominican on Sunday.