GVSU women’s hoops dominates Wayne State, escapes SVSU in weekend action

Josh Peick

Last season, Saginaw Valley State marched into the GVSU Fieldhouse Arena and escaped with 75-71 win. This year, the Grand Valley State women’s basketball team protected home court to complete the weekend-series sweep.

The Lakers beat the rival Cardinals 63-57 Saturday, Jan. 21 after taking care of Wayne State 66-37 Thursday, Jan. 19.

In the first game, the Lakers (13-4) led from wire to wire. Forward Kayla Dawson scored seven points in the first quarter and finished with a game-high 17 points. After the quarter, GVSU led 18-3.

“She finally opened up and she took some threes,” said GVSU coach Mike Williams. “She was taking what the defense was giving her. Before that she was trying to create things that weren’t there.”

Dawson was not the only player hitting 3-pointers. Senior Bailey Cairnduff hit threes in back-to-back possessions in the second quarter. She finished the game with 14 points on 5-9 shooting from the field.

“We were doing really well getting into the paint and then finding kick outs and being ready to shoot,” Dawson said. “Our past games we have been hesitant to shoot those shots.”

While she only had four points, senior guard Taylor Lutz dished out eight assists to go along with six rebounds. In the game against SVSU, Lutz would have no issue finding the bottom of the net.

The Lakers started the game on a 7-0 run before the Cardinals made 3-pointers on three consecutive possessions. Lutz started the game with a perfect 3-for-3 from the field including a buzzer-beating finger-roll layup to end the first quarter.

GVSU kept up the pressure in the second quarter ending the half with a five-point lead. Center Piper Tucker finished the half 2-4 from behind the 3-point arc, an advantage the Lakers felt they had heading into the game.

“It’s a nice weapon to have when your post player can shoot threes,” Williams said.

Emily Wendling, SVSU’s center, is a traditional post player in which she does most her damage from the low block. Tucker’s athletic ability and shooting prowess forced Wendling to defend on the perimeter.

“It definitely helped that my guards penetrated and got to the paint to open it up for me,” Tucker said. “Wendling is a little bit slower than me so I really had to stretch out.”

The Lakers kept the five-point lead in the third quarter, then in the fourth, the offense found a rhythm and pulled away.

“We put two halves together,” Tucker said. “A lot of times we have a letdown in the third quarter or the end of the second, and coming out there strong in the second half we got a good team win.”

Tucker and guard Janae Langs buried a couple of 3-pointers early in the fourth quarter to give the Lakers a 13-point lead. The Cardinals chipped away at the lead until it was down to four, but Tucker’s 3-pointer with 51 seconds left sealed the game.

“This senior group, they’ve just been warriors, last year and this year,” Williams said. “They come, they bring their lunch pail and they go to work.”

Three seniors, Lutz, Langs and Tucker, played all but one minute in the game and each scored over 13 points.

The two wins marked the first weekend sweep since Dec. 1 and 3. The Lakers now sit one game behind SVSU for first place in the GLIAC North Division. The two teams will meet again in Saginaw Saturday, Feb. 4.

GVSU will travel to the Upper Peninsula for a two-game series against two GLIAC foes. The Lakers play Michigan Tech Thursday, Jan. 26 at 5:30 p.m. and Northern Michigan Saturday, Jan. 28 at 1 p.m.