Injury-riddled, women’s basketball falls at rival Ferris State

GVL / Robert Mathews
A group of Lakers fight for a loose ball during a previous game against Hillsdale.

Robert Mathews

GVL / Robert Mathews A group of Lakers fight for a loose ball during a previous game against Hillsdale.

Stephanie Deible

The Grand Valley State University women’s basketball team had strong performances from senior Kara Crawford and junior guard Briauna Taylor, but could not overcome Ferris State University in Saturday’s 58-50 loss to the Bulldogs.

Heading into action at Jim Wink Arena, GVSU (9-10, 6-6 GLIAC) had only nine players available to compete after junior forward Brittany Taylor suffered a season-ending knee injury in practice on Thursday.

Taylor joins juniors Alex Stelfox and Lauren Stodola, who are also out for the rest of the season with knee injuries.

Facing GLIAC North-leading Ferris State (13-4, 10-1 GLIAC), the under-manned Lakers used aggressive defense and converted 17 of 20 free-throw attempts to keep pressure on the Bulldogs throughout the contest.

“We focused so hard,” said GVSU head coach Janel Burgess. “Losing Brittany Taylor on Thursday is very tough to take, but we did a tremendous job of playing together with great execution. In crucial situations, we took the charge and finished key defensive possessions with under 10 seconds down the stretch.”

The Lakers defense forced the Bulldogs into 10 turnovers, including eight steals.

GVSU withstood a 9-0 Ferris State run in the first half, before putting together an 8-0 run of their own.

In the opening minutes of the second half, Crawford and sophomore guard Dani Crandall nailed back-to-back three-pointers to give GVSU a three-point edge, but foul trouble impacted the Lakers ability to maintain the lead.

“A lot of people were in foul trouble, it was just one of those games.” said Briauna Taylor, who scored 20 points in 23 minutes of play. “A lot of them weren’t even good fouls, they were cheap fouls. We need to find a way to eliminate that, me especially. That can’t happen again.”

Foul trouble, something GVSU can ill afford with a small roster, limited the play time of Taylor and sophomores Breanna Kellogg and Lindsay McCarty down the stretch.

Crawford and freshman point guard Meryl Cripe provided stability on the court while the Lakers were fighting through foul difficulties, playing 40 and 39 minutes, respectively.

Burgess said the duo turned iron women performances, helping the Lakers stay composed and stepping up in some key situations.

Despite the loss, Crawford hopes the Lakers will be able to build off of their crisp execution, success at the foul line and their determination throughout their last seven games of the regular season.

“We did have a lot of positives,” Crawford said. “Coming off of that loss I think everyone can say that we did work hard. We did execute our game plan and there was heart and a lot of hustle out there.”

Injuries have slowed GVSU down in recent weeks, but Taylor said the Lakers still have some fight left in them.

“Even though we only have nine girls, we can play against any team in the GLIAC,” she said. “We fought against the number one team. We can beat anybody.”

GVSU will return home to take on Saginaw Valley State University at 6 p.m. on Thursday in the Fieldhouse Arena.