Van Tubbergen’s double-double leads GVSU men’s basketball to victory over SVSU; fifth straight win

Robbie Triano

Heading into the winter break with a disappointing 3-7 overall record (0-4 GLIAC), the Grand Valley State men’s basketball team knew some changes needed to be made in order to save their season and hopes for postseason success. 

After multiple lineup changes, necessary defensive adjustments and finding their spots on the floor offensively, the Lakers responding by winning four straight games during the break to bring their record to an even 7-7 overall record (2-4 GLIAC).

However, the Lakers had one more pre-winter semester contest. But this time, it was against arch-rival Saginaw Valley State (5-9, 2-4 GLIAC) at the GVSU Fieldhouse Arena Saturday, Jan. 6.

With their improved defense and newly discovered effort throughout the team, the Lakers defeated a physical SVSU team 81-66 to bring their record to 8-7 (3-4 GLIAC) on the season and extend their winning streak to five games. The Cardinals only completed 35 percent of their field goal attempts against a stingy GVSU interior defense, who accumulated seven total blocks and five steals.

But the game wasn’t as smooth as it appeared for GVSU, as the Lakers allowed the Cardinals to creep back in the game late in the second half with unneeded shooting fouls and 13 missed free throws. There were 45 total foul calls in the game, with 21 of them coming from GVSU.

To GVSU head coach Ric Wesley, the post game praise to his players should have been much more enjoyable for how he thought his team competed effort wise.

“There were segments where we definitely played good basketball, but with the amount of foul calls and missed free throws, it was not a pretty game at all,” Wesley said. “We were our own worst enemy with free throws. If we made those, we could’ve had a much better sense of our performance today.”

The Lakers only shot 24 percent from outside the three point line, but their 34 points in the paint and solid mid-range shooting improved their total field goal percentage to 52 percent. 

Freshman forward Jake Van Tubbergen dominated on both ends of the floor, tallying a team-high 18 points (6-9 FG, 1-1 3FG, 5-7 FT) and 11 rebounds in 31 minutes to grab his first career double-double. But to Van Tubbergen, the success he saw on the court wouldn’t have been possible without the other four teammates around him.

“We were just doing a great job moving the ball and allowing me to find my spots that I could attack,” Van Tubbergen said. “It’s always nice to have teammates that will trust you to hit those open shots.”

After being sidelined during the team’s first four contests with a leg injury, Van Tubbergen has proved himself as a major factor in his team’s recent success. Besides averaging 12.4 points over their recent five game winning streak, Van Tubbergen brings the Lakers length and height to go “small” with their lineups, along with a well balanced offensive attack inside and outside the perimeter. 

Senior Chris Dorsey came off the bench to score a team-second 12 points (6-9 FG), along with seven rebounds, in just 17 minutes. Dorsey’s performance tied his season high for points, which places him in the right direction after losing his starting role in late November.

“We’ve really moved him around and he’s become a solid utility guy,” Wesley said. “He’s here, he’s there, he’s everywhere, and it’s helping him find better opportunities. He has so much talent, and we’re just uncovering some better ways to make him a hard matchup for the other team.”

Major contributions also came from GVSU seniors Myles Miller and Drake Baar. Miller finished the contest with 9 points (3-5 FG, 3-4 FT), four assists and two steals in 24 minutes, while Baar collected eight points, four rebounds and three blocks in just 13 minutes.

Junior Zach West came off the bench to add nine points and nine rebounds in 28 minutes, while center Justin Greason added nine points and seven rebounds in just 13 minutes.

The Lakers will hope to keep their winning streak alive next against their toughest test of the season against GLIAC-rival Ashland University (12-3, 5-2 GLIAC) in Ashland, Ohio Thursday, Jan. 11.