Poor defense leads GVSU basketball to fall to local rival

GVL / Sheila Babbitt

GVL / Sheila Babbitt

Kellen Voss

The Grand Valley State men’s basketball team only had one game this week instead of their normal two, but despite the extra few days to prepare, they still lost on the road to local GLIAC rival Davenport Panthers, falling 80-59 on Saturday, Jan. 26.

Slow starts have plagued this basketball team all season long, as was the case in Saturday’s contest, as the Panthers jumped out to a 11-2 run that ultimately led to a 26-11 run within the first ten minutes, digging the Lakers a grave that they could never get out of.

Despite three Lakers scoring in double digits, with Justin Greason leading the team with 17 points and Jake Van Tubbergen and Hunter Hale each scoring 12 points, poor defense was ultimately what led to a Panther victory.

The Panthers shot the ball well from deep, hitting 40 percent of their threes in the game, including shooting 46.2 percent in the first half. The team shot 51.8 percent from the field in the contest, with Avery Hudson leading Davenport with 22 points to go along with five rebounds, five assists and two steals.

The reason why Davenport was able to get so many open threes was because of poor defensive footwork and too many drives too deep into the lane, according to head coach Ric Wesley.

“We allowed them to get to the paint, penetrating the ball, getting in the middle of our defense and collapsing it for kick-outs,” Wesley said. “They were difficult to match up with. I thought they played at a high level and it certainly wasn’t our best effort, because I didn’t feel like anyone showed up for us today.”

After Saturday’s loss, the Lakers fall to 11-8 on the year and 5-6 in the GLIAC, marking the first time all season that the Lakers are sub-.500 in the conference.

As GVSU heads into the second half of their season which much more GLIAC bouts to come, Wesley feels that the team needs to focus on improving on the defensive end of the floor if they want to make the conference tournament and make a postseason run.

“Our defense has got to be way better, because if your defense gets better, your defense will eventually improve, and our inability to guard the ball today was not good,” Wesley said. 

“We didn’t get hurt on post-ups, but they were doing a good job of sharing the ball and being in sync. They did a good job finding the best opportunities, but our defense has got to be better. Whether it’s man, zone or a combination of both, we can’t play like we did today and have a chance to win.”

GVSU will look to improve upon their record this week, as they travel to play Wayne State on Thursday, Jan. 31 before facing Ashland on Saturday, Feb. 2. Thursday’s game starts 7:30 p.m., and Saturday’s game tips-off at 3:00 p.m.