GVSU women’s basketball splits Upper Peninsula GLIAC series

GVL / Spencer Scarber 
GVSU Womens Baskeball vs Purdue Northwest on Saturday January 27, 2018.

GVL / Spencer Scarber GVSU Women’s Baskeball vs Purdue Northwest on Saturday January 27, 2018.

Brady McAtamney

It was not an easy weekend for the No. 24 Grand Valley State women’s basketball team.

Along with their eight-and-a-half-hour bus ride to the Upper Peninsula, the Lakers were also tasked with taking on the No. 17 Michigan Tech Huskies and Northern Michigan Wildcats.

Game one took place Thursday, Feb. 1, against MTU, a team the Lakers lost to in overtime earlier in the season by only four points. With revenge on their minds, GVSU fell behind 16-4 early in the first quarter, but the Lakers were able to rally back and even capture a 34-33 halftime advantage—their first lead of the game—on a layup by forward Taylor Parmley with a mere three seconds left on the clock.

The third quarter seemed to indicate that the Lakers’ lead was around to stay, as they got ahead by as many as 11 points late in the period. However, the Huskies went on a 5-0 run in the last 67 seconds of the third quarter.

That’s where things changed.

MTU outscored GVSU 22-9 in the fourth quarter and took the game 68-61 to hand the Lakers their second loss by the Huskies this season. 

“I don’t think we really wanted to play basketball to start the game; I don’t know what we were doing,” said head coach Mike Williams. “We kind of did whatever we wanted to do. I thought our kids did respond a little bit—they came out in the third and got ourselves back in the game and we got up by 11—and then down the stretch in the fourth quarter we just, Tech showed a lot of maturity, a lot of toughness, and just took it to us in that end of the third and fourth quarter.”

Parmley scored 22 points on only 12 shots, while guard Jenn DeBoer scored 14.

From a numbers standpoint, the game looks as though it was basically even, with each team recording the same number of rebounds (36), fouls (15), turnovers (13), blocks (3) and steals (5).

“I don’t know if there’s one thing,” Parmley said. “I think sometimes we over-help or we’ll forget about who we’re guarding. I don’t know if I could say it’s one thing.

“If you can’t tell, I’m sad.”

Even though both games against the Huskies this season were nail-biters, Williams is not pleased with simply hanging around with the elite teams in the conference, let alone the country.

“If you like being close, if you’re not interested in winning games and being close, we’re doing a pretty good job,” he said. “But if you’re interested in winning games, then we’ve got to do a better job. No matter who you’re playing, if you want to be a good team, if we want to be a good team, we’ve got to be able to beat the good teams, and we haven’t done that yet.”

Saturday, Feb. 3, was the rebound day, but again, the Lakers were sluggish out of the gate. After scoring only 22 first-half points and hitting 29.6 percent of their shots (18.2 percent from 3-point range), GVSU came out of halftime rejuvenated and ready to compete.

The Lakers tallied 30 points in the latter half, while holding the Wildcats to only 10—four in the third quarter and six in the fourth—to come out of Marquette with a 52-38 victory.

DeBoer served as the spark the team needed, scoring 20 points with 15 in the second half alone. No other Laker scored more than eight in the entire game.

The Lakers won despite grabbing only 23 total rebounds and dishing out a measly five assists on the game. Where GVSU clearly shined was on defense, as the Lakers swiped up 12 steals as part of NMU’s 25 turnovers, leading to 20 points off turnovers.

The 38 points allowed by the Lakers are the second fewest allowed all season by GVSU (36 against Purdue Northwest, Jan. 27).

“I’d just say that I’m always proud of our team and I’m excited to see how we respond from this and we just have to keep grinding,” Parmley said.

The Lakers will seek to avenge the victory that could have been when they conclude the “Downtown Thursday” series in a battle against the Wayne State Warriors (15-5, 10-4 GLIAC) on Thursday, Feb. 8, at 8 p.m.