GVSU Basketball remains in first place after last-second loss to Ashland


Feb. 8, GV v. Ashland GVL / Micah Hill

Kellen Voss, Sports Editor

History professors often say that history tends to repeat itself.

Stop me if you’re heard this before, but a men’s team at Grand Valley State University hosted a feisty Ashland team who won in the last few seconds. The 2018-19 squad lost to the Eagles last season, and the 2019 GVSU football team lost on a Hail Mary earlier this school year.

The Lakers fell to 19-4 on the year on Saturday, as Ashland senior Drew Noble rebounded his own miss with five seconds left before quickly laying the ball in to clinch the Eagle win. GVSU senior Jeremiah Ferguson (led the team in scoring with 23 points) tried to huck up a desperation three, but it hit the front of the rim.

GVSU coach Ric Wesley said he takes the blame for even putting his team in that situation, as even though the Lakers had a brutal turnover by failing to get the ball in bounds within the referee’s five-second count, Wesley takes full responsibility for that mental error.

“We’ve done a pretty good job in the last five minutes of these games, but it’s inexcusable to get a turnover there on the sideline with a timeout left,” Wesley said. “That’s on me, I’ll take that. I thought I had the count, and I guess I didn’t. It went fast, and I couldn’t see the referee great, I feel awful and I know I could have done better there.”

While the Lakers started the game on a 14-0 run in the first seven minutes, Noble (19 points, eight rebounds) and junior Derek Koch (15 points, 3-6 shooting from three, eight rebounds) were getting buckets at a consistent rate with a solid inside-out game.

Senior guard Rodrick Caldwell was able to match Koch’s point total in just the first half, but after GVSU adjusted and moved junior John Slater onto him, he had a relatively quiet second half.

Feb. 8, GV v. Ashland
GVL / Micah Hill

“John (Slater) did a good job,” Wesley said. “(Caldwell) is a small guy, and you think he’s going to drive. You know he’s going to shoot threes from the scouting report, but when you see him in person, it feels like he wants to go by you,”

Slater was probably the only Laker who played above what was expected of him Saturday, scoring five key second half points while earning a +11 plus/minus.

Slater and juniors Jake Van Tubbergen (11 points, three steals) and Isaac Gassman (nine points) did a solid job of doubling Ashland’s post players on the dribble, but sending double teams often means sacrificing in the rebounding department,

This aggressive strategy is partially why Ashland got 11 total offensive rebounds, compared to GVSU’s four.

“They kept throwing it in there, and it’s next to impossible to stop Noble from getting closer (to the basket),” Wesley said. “When he keeps moving you out of the way, there’s not much else you can do, so we tried to get it out of there as best we could.”

Despite the loss, the Lakers are still atop the GLIAC thanks to a 12-3 record in the conference. They will look to rebound against Saginaw Valley State on Thursday, but Wesley wants to see his team play with more learn from this loss going forward.

“Some days are better than others, this was a tough day for us,” Wesley said. “They are on a roll right now, things just didn’t break our way in the end. We just got to pick up the pieces and move on to the next one.”