Preview: GVSU women’s basketball to face Wayne State, Davenport in home matchups

<p>GVL / Spencer Scarber </p>
<p>The GVSU women's basketball team defeated Indianapolis 77-57 on Nov. 18, 2017.</p>

GVL / Spencer Scarber 

The GVSU women's basketball team defeated Indianapolis 77-57 on Nov. 18, 2017.

Kellen Voss

After a tough road loss Thursday, Feb. 1, to the Michigan Tech Huskies 61-68, Grand Valley State women’s basketball must have been listening to some Big Sean in the Upper Peninsula because they “bounced back” beautifully with a win against Northern Michigan 52-38 on Saturday, Feb. 3. The Lakers are now looking to carry that momentum into their games this week.

The Lakers faced a tough test this past week against two good teams in the GLIAC, but they still sit in the bronze medal position in the GLIAC standings, with a second-place seat in the North Division. They play two more games this week, with matchups against Wayne State and Davenport on the docket.

Despite the team’s loss last week, coach Mike Williams is confident his team will not see another defeat this week as they have some good momentum going.

“Obviously, you want to get both wins, so it was disheartening to lose our lead (to Michigan Tech),” Williams said. “It was nice to bounce back and play really well in the second half against Northern. I think that was really good for our team.”

Williams appreciates how much pride his players take in getting back into their practice grind and improving every day.

“They really do enjoy practice for the most part, and our team has been practicing hard,” Williams said. “We always say these girls have been one of the best practice teams in the country, and they always do what we tell them to do and get after it, and I love that.”

GVSU’s first game this week is against the Warriors of Wayne State, who currently post an impressive 15-5 overall record, good enough for second place in the GLIAC South Division.

Wayne State’s strong offense has been led by guards who can score at will; both Nastassja Chambers and Ja’Nae Williams can light it up quickly on offense. They have both posted game highs of more than 20 points and are both shooting over 70 percent from the free-throw line.

“They attack the rim very well, so we’re just trying to stay in front of them defensively,” Williams said. “They are very aggressive defensively and get in your space, so we’ve been working on a lot of pressure drills and passing drills to handle them.”

One interesting wrinkle in Thursday’s matchup with Wayne State is that the game will be played at the DeltaPlex Arena in Grand Rapids, but Williams is confident the Lakers will not be phased by playing in the new location.

“Like any good basketball team, they just love playing the game,” Williams said. “They are excited to play any basketball game, no matter where it is.”

After Thursday’s 8 p.m. matchup at the DeltaPlex, the Lakers will play a home game against the Davenport Panthers on Saturday at 6 p.m. in the Fieldhouse Arena.

Although the Panthers have struggled a bit this year (7-14, 5-9 in conference), GVSU is not taking them lightly because they do have several strong basketball players, including forward Emily Severn, who leads the team in scoring (12.2 ppg) and is second on the team in rebounding (5.5).

“They are a completely different team from Wayne State,” Williams said. “They really like to shoot the ball, and they are not really a penetrating team, so we’re playing two completely styles of basketball in each game this week.”

Despite the Lakers’ decent conference record (11-3), Williams still sees more than a few things they need to improve down the stretch .

“We still need to get tougher, and we need to find a balance of limiting our turnovers but still be aggressive,” Williams said. “We also need to focus on defending better as a team. (We’ve) been trying to defend individuals too much, and we got to work on our team defense to see more success.”