Offensive balance leads women’s basketball to 72-55 victory over Wayne State

GVL / Bo Anderson
GVSUs Kara Crawford shoots from the top of the key against Ashland

Bo Anderson

GVL / Bo Anderson GVSU’s Kara Crawford shoots from the top of the key against Ashland

Stephanie Deible

Injuries have slowed down the Grand Valley State University women’s basketball team throughout the heart of its conference schedule, but the Lakers showed no signs of fatigue in their last road game of the season.

GVSU (10-15, 7-11 GLIAC) exploded in a 72-55 victory over the Wayne State University (11-14, 6-12 GLIAC), an offense output well above their 59.3 points-per-game average, that snapped a seven-game losing streak.

“It was good to see all eight of our kids be able to contribute (Saturday),” said GVSU head coach Janel Burgess. “I thought we played very, very good defense to be able to hold a team to 55 points again, which we have not done in the last three games.”

With only eight players at full strength, Burgess and the Lakers have put a great emphasis on holding teams below the 60-point mark to put them in a position to earn a victory.

“We really wanted to be ready to play a full 40 minutes,” junior guard Briauna Taylor said. “We wanted to concentrate on getting defensive stops.”

Although the Laker defense returned to form after giving up over 70 points in their previous three contests, it was the balance within the Laker offense that stole the show.

“Our inside kids Lindsay (McCarty), Emily (England) and Daina (Grazulis) are continuing to come along,” Burgess said. “Our kids on the outside have good confidence to get them the ball and penetrate, giving us good balance on the inside and outside. It has taken some pressure off of Briauna Taylor.”

England and Grazulis combined for 13 points and eight rebounds off the bench for GVSU in the win.

Despite the emergence of the Lakers’ inside play, Taylor sparked the team from the opening tip and GVSU never looked back.

The junior, who grew up near Detroit in Livonia, Mich., and was playing in front of a hometown crowd, nailed a 3-pointer to open the game and went on to score 21 of GVSU’s 48 points.

Taylor said she always looks forward to going home and playing in front of her family and friends.

With five minutes left to go in the contest, the Lakers held a 66-44 lead and used three steals to close out the game.

“We finally just had to bond together,” said McCarty, who scored four points and grabbed three rebounds in the win. “We started rough against Findlay and (Saturday) we started on the right note. Offensively, everything was there and defensively, we went back to our standards and principals that we’ve always had, but have gotten away from the past few games.”

On Thursday, Taylor became the 21st player in GVSU history to score 1,000 career points.

However, the Lakers offense could not find its rhythm in a 78-67 loss to the University of Findlay (14-11, 8-10 GLIAC).

Taylor said she was motivated at the start of Thursday’s game, knowing she only needed 11 points in order to reach the 1,000-point mark.

Despite Taylor’s milestone, GVSU struggled from the floor and ended the game shooting at a 39 percent clip.

GVSU will close out the regular season on Saturday at 1 p.m. against Ferris State University in the Fieldhouse Arena.

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