Men’s basketball sweeps GLIAC openers

Brady Fredericksen

After suffering its first loss of the season Nov. 27 against No. 20 Northern Kentucky University, the Grand Valley State University men’s basketball team opened its conference schedule on the right foot with an 80-53 win over Ohio Dominican University Thursday and a 101-76 victory over Tiffin University Saturday.

The Lakers (5-1, 2-0 GLIAC) started slow in both games, but the play of junior guard Alvin Storrs, who averaged 18 points and 5.5 rebounds in the two games, helped GVSU take control of the games in the first half.

“We have so much talent, and I feel like having that many great players on our team has given me some mismatches the past few nights, and my teammates have found me,” Storrs said. “Some people will go off one night, and others will go off another night. It just depends on your teammates finding you.”

Throughout the game against Ohio Dominican, the Lakers found most of their production in the paint. Despite an eight-point advantage for GVSU on the blocks, Ohio Dominican kept the game’s deficit at 10.

GVSU continued to force Ohio Dominican into turnovers, and midway through the first half the Lakers went on a 17-3 Storrs-led run to break the game open.

“We just try to pick up our defensive intensity for 40 minutes every game,” said junior guard James Thomas, who scored 11 points against the Panthers. “It’s hard to keep that intensity up for 40 minutes a game, but we’re going to keep working on it every day.”

With their defense forcing Ohio Dominican into tough perimeter shots, the top scorers for the Panthers, forward Aaron Gibbs and center Zac Kapron, shot a combined 6-of-16 from the field.

GVSU had advantages in points in the paint (34-16), points off turnovers (27-14), fast break points (10-0) and bench scoring (36-19) to help the team to victory against the Panthers.

While the Lakers relied on inside scoring to defeat Ohio Dominican, the theme in Saturday’s win over Tiffin was the exact opposite. The Dragons, who came out in a 2-3 zone, put the Lakers in a tough spot early.

“We haven’t faced much zone this year, but we anticipated seeing it,” said GVSU head coach Ric Wesley. “We’ve been working on it in practice, so I actually think we got some really great shots against it.”

Those looks came early and often in the first half. Led by junior guard Wes Trammell and Thomas, the Lakers made a school-record 11 three-pointers in the half. A 15-0 run made up of five deep balls midway through the half extended the Laker lead to 24.

“I think when teams play zone, they kind of play right into my hands,” said Thomas, who is shooting 78 percent from three-point range on the season. “When I see a zone it boosts my confidence, and I know I can try to open the floor up a little bit and get them out of it.”

In the second half, the Lakers were slowed by Tiffin’s full-court pressure. Similarly, the team was slowed in the second half of Thursday’s game by pressure from Ohio Dominican.

“When a team gets behind, they kind of throw caution to the wind and do whatever they can to wreak havoc, and it’s always difficult to face an opponent who feels like they have noting to lose,” Wesley said. “That’s kind of the art of playing with a big lead – stay aggressive without necessarily playing crazy.”

GVSU figured out the press against Tiffin and continued to pile on the points to finish with their second outing of triple-digit scoring this season.

The Lakers will play NAIA opponent Olivet College at home tonight before going on the road to face Northwood Thursday. Tonight’s tip off is set for 7 in the Fieldhouse Arena.

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