GVSU basketball falls in first round of NCAA tournament to Lewis

Courtesy / gvsu lakers

Courtesy / gvsu lakers

Kellen Voss

The clock has struck twelve on the Cinderella season for the Grand Valley State men’s basketball team, as their thrilling journey to the NCAA Tournament last weekend has ended in defeat. The Lakers fell to the Lewis Flyers 65-63 on Saturday, March 16.

The Lakers were minutes away from upsetting the hosts of the tournament, keeping the lead for more than 26 minutes in one of the most complete games they’ve played all season.

Unlike many games this season, GVSU started off this game strongly, leading by as much as seven early to Lewis, leading after the first half 29-25. Consistently getting stops on defense was key to that, as well as an offense that always flowed well with Jake Van Tubbergen in the game, who led the Lakers with 19 points on 8-10 shooting in just 19 minutes of action.

Despite the quality performance from Van Tubbergen, GVSU’s starting guards who have been so key all season long couldn’t get into a groove offensively, as Jeremiah Ferguson and Hunter Hale were each held to single digit points on 6-28 shooting. 

“We’re disappointed that we couldn’t find a way to keep the run going, our guys have really come together well in this last month,” said head coach Ric Wesley. “We played pretty well for the most part, it just came down to a call or two. I’m proud of our effort, togetherness, and the fact that they fought until the very last second.”

While the loss may sting at this very moment, the Lakers are proud of this season — winning the GLIAC tournament and earning a spot in the NCAA tournament is nothing short of a successful season. Perhaps one of the most successful postseason basketball teams that GVSU has had this decade, as Wesley recalls.

“We started off the season with a lot of promise, and that was probably as good of a late season run as we’ve had at GV, we’re the first seven seed ever to go through the conference tournament, and we didn’t get any breaks along the way,” Wesley said. 

“We didn’t get a break during the tourney either, since we played a number one seed at their place, and yet we took them right down to the wire. We left a legacy, won a trophy and have a lot to feel proud about to build upon for next year.”

Going forward, the Lakers will lose three seniors who were major contributors to the season’s victories. Kindred Williams played some key minutes in crunch time and Zach West and Justin Greason were four-year contributors at GVSU. Wesley was glad that the team could have some success with them before parting ways.

“I’m glad we could send our seniors out winners and reward them for all their hard work and commitment to our program,” Wesley said. “Hopefully this group takes away the fact that when you’re all in for each other, good things happen”

GVSU ended the 2018-19 season with a 19-13 record, along with a 10-10 record in the conference, won the GLIAC tournament, and mad ean appearance in the DII NCAA Tournament.