GVSU comes up short in upset bid at No. 4 Bellarmine

GVL / Robert Mathews
Freshman Ricardo Carbajal (32)

GVL / Robert Mathews Freshman Ricardo Carbajal (32)

Bryce Derouin

Head coach Ric Wesley knew it would take 40 minutes of sharp execution on offense and defense for his Grand Valley State University men’s basketball team to pull a road upset of No. 4 Bellarmine University.

Unfortunately for GVSU (1-1), it was Bellarmine who made the plays down the stretch, securing a 64-57 victory on Saturday. Senior Tyrone Lee and sophomore Ryan Majerle led the Lakers with 12 points each and Majerle also led the Lakers with seven assists.

“It was a tough environment to go into,” Wesley said. “They’re a really talented team. I thought we did some good things and it certainly was a great game. We just weren’t quite good enough and didn’t quite execute well enough down the stretch to win.”

This was an early season test for the young Lakers. Bellarmine has been a one of the top teams in Division II in recent years. The Knights won the NCAA Division II National Championship two seasons ago and were a Final Four team last year.

The Lakers went into halftime with a 25-24 lead and managed to extend that lead to 29-24 before Bellarmine responded with 10 straight points from junior Keisten Jones, who finished with 17 points.

GVSU would regain the lead 37-34 with 12:29 left to play after consecutive baskets by Lee, but it was the last time the Lakers would hold the lead as Bellarmine responded with another run, this time outscoring GVSU 12-0.

Heading into the game, the Lakers knew it was vital to contain junior guard Vance Hall. However, GVSU wasn’t able to contain him and Hall managed to score a game-high 24 points.

“We let Hall, a good player, get too many open shots,” Wesley said. “He’s a talented guy and you could see he gained confidence as the game went on.”

GVSU was outrebounded 31-27 and committed 17 turnovers, compared to 13 for Bellarmine. Lee, one of the team captains, believes the Lakers need to improve on the boards if they are to have a successful season.

“I like where we’re headed,” Lee said. “I feel like we have a great team. We have to improve on our rebounding. That’s the most important thing and free throws. Games are won and lost on those two. We’re looking at what we need to work on and we need to continue to rebound. Team rebounding, not just two or three guys, like everybody and all five guys.”

After an early season loss against one of the top teams in Division II, it was a valuable learning experience for GVSU, but the Lakers are still looking to be playing their best ball at the end of the year.

“They were a good team and they played well,” said sophomore Ryan Sabin, who was the only other Laker to score in double digits and had 11 points. “We started out pretty good and we kind of made some mistakes. It shows that we can play a little bit better and that we want to be playing our best game at the end of the year, which is our main concern. We’re gonna be scary when we play our best.”

GVSU returns to Allendale on Monday night to take on Kuyper College at 7 p.m.
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