GVSU women’s basketball dominates home-opener

GVL / Emily Frye
Junior guard Janae Langs on Nov. 19th.

GVL / Emily Frye Junior guard Janae Langs on Nov. 19th.

Beau Troutman

Grand Valley State (2-1) opened its home schedule with a bang, defeating Indiana University-Northwest 87-53 on Thursday night. The Lakers started the game on a scalding 20-5 run in the first few minutes, and never looked back.

“I thought we did a good job,” said GVSU head coach Mike Williams. “Moving the basketball, finding open players, getting good shots. We probably had seven or eight shots that were almost down the cylinder and popped out, so that was tough.”

The Lakers outscored the Red Hawks 28-10 in the first quarter, thanks to four of eight shooting from behind the arc and 10 forced turnovers. Three of those 3-pointers came from shooting specialist Lindsay Baker, who led all scorers with 20.

“My team gave me a lot of confidence,” Baker said. “I had been struggling to shoot, and that’s my game. I think it’s huge having teammates that have confidence in you, and are willing to keep giving you the ball knowing that you’ll eventually make it.”

The Lakers finished 12 of 29 from 3-point range on the night, and Baker’s 20 points was part of a bench performance that contributed 41 points.

“That’s what she does,” Williams said. “She’s a shooter. We really did a good job finding her today, and she was open and made shots.”

The defense, however, was not to be upstaged by the dynamic offense. The Lakers forced a whopping 31 turnovers, 24 of which were in the first half alone. The Lakers also held the Red Hawks (6-2) to 32.7 percent shooting from the field, and gave up only 16 field goals.

It was a sign of progress for a team that made defense its top priority in the offseason.

“I think it’s getting better. You always have that expectation of being really good, and we want to be really good, but I think we did a really good job defensively,” Williams said.

With 18 points, nine rebounds and four steals, sophomore Kayla Dawson continued to be a force for the Lakers, and said it wasn’t hard to get up for the first home game of the year.

“With the home-opener and all that adrenaline, my teammates and I were all excited to be back on home court,” Dawson said.

The Lakers doubled the Red Hawks in rebounds in the first half — an area Dawson says the team has been working hard at in practice.

“We’ve been working on boxing out a lot, since we don’t have a lot of tall, big girls, so definitely our work in practice has helped us out in the games,” she said.

Guard Taylor Lutz had four points, seven assists and three steals. Senior point guard Brionna Barnett had 11 points and five assists. Barnett nailed a triple at the end of the third quarter, when she hit a near half-courter as time expired.

Baker says the chemistry on the team will be a big advantage for them going forward, as the season is officially in full swing.

“I think that our team is not the starting five and the bench, and I think that’s the difference between our team and a lot of really good teams,” she said. “We’re 16 players that compete every single day against each other in practice, and you never know who’s going to win. We have 16 players who could be a starting five.”

The Lakers will host Lewis University on Wednesday, and go on the road to play Gannon University on Saturday.