No. 4 GVSU falls to No. 2 Ashland in GLIAC finale, turn attention to Ferris State in Midwest Regional


GVL / Meghan Landgren

Eli Ong, Staff Writer

In their third match-up of the year versus the Ashland Eagles, the No. 4 ranked Grand Valley State University women’s basketball team executed well on defense and kept the game within one possession deep into the second half, but inevitably came up short once again against their conference rival, 61-53

GVSU trimmed the Ashland lead to 33-32 on a 3-pointer from senior guard Jenai LaPorte with 5:39 remaining in the third quarter, and faced only a 38-35 deficit going into the final frame after trading baskets back and forth with the Eagles.

The Lakers kept the deficit to three-points until the 4:39 mark when the Eagles got a lay-up to go and followed that up with another layup and a foul. With Ashland up seven, they would grow the lead to as many as 11 points at 57-46 with 2:26 remaining before closing the game out and handing Grand Valley a 61-53 loss. With the defeat, GVSU dropped to 28-3 on the year.

While the loss still stings, especially being to the only team that has beaten GVSU on the hardwood this season, there was a marked improvement from their 25-point loss to Ashland at home back on Saturday, Feb. 8. That improvement can be attributed to better collective team defense and senior forward Maddie Dailey.

Dailey led the Lakers with a superb offensive performance. The Hastings, Michigan, native poured in 19 points on 80 percent (8-10) shooting to lead all Lakers in scoring and field goal percentage. The Lakers also held Ashland to season lows in points scored (61) and field goal percentage (34.5 percent). The Eagles next lowest mark in each of those categories before Sunday, March 8 were 77 points against GVSU in their previous matchup on Feb. 8 and 43.8 percent shooting all the way back on Dec. 7 against the Ferris State Bulldogs.

“Two things we wanted to do was one, slow down their point guard (Renee) Stimpert who had been really getting downhill, and really making us pay the last two times we played them,” said GVSU coach Mike Williams. “Number two, we wanted to get back in transition because they really beat us up in that aspect in our first two matchups and I think we did a good job of executing both of those goals.”

Where the Lakers went wrong were areas that they usually outperform their competition in: rebounding and turnovers. Ashland out-rebounded GVSU 39-35 and 13-8 on the offensive glass when the Lakers, on average, have out-rebounded their opponents by 9.8 rebounds per game this year. GVSU also turned the ball over at a higher clip than the Eagles, committing 19 turnovers to Ashland’s 13, when they average 13.6 turnovers per game on the season. Combine those factors with the Eagles decided advantage in free throws (15-19 compared to the Lakers 6-8), and the game eventually fell in favor of Ashland.

“(I) give credit to Ashland man,” Williams said. “When you play a team three times like they did–and I think we’re a pretty good team–to withstand and beat a team three times like they did, I don”t care if it’s by one point or in triple overtime, that’s a hell of a feat so I give them credit because that’s pretty impressive.”

Williams also questioned playing in the GLIAC tournament, where he felt it put his team at more of a disadvantage than an advantage moving forward into the postseason.

“We played a lot of kids who were banged up so we went out there and competed for three games hurt,” Williams said. “So it’s tough when you go out and play your heart out and lose that third game and it results in you dropping a seed in the tournament, so yeah, I kind of wish we didn’t play in the (GLIAC) tournament because we could’ve earned the same seeding without risking our players getting injured even more.”

Senior guard Taryn Taugher came back to play in the GLIAC tournament finale despite a shoulder injury sustained during senior night March 27. Williams also cited Boensch and senior guard Victoria Hedemark as playing through minor injuries, but did not specify what exactly ailed them.

GVSU now turns their attention to their first round matchup in the Midwest Regional of the NCAA tournament where they will face conference rival Ferris State on Friday, March 13 in Springfield, Missouri.

“To me, to play a conference rival is something that you never want to do in the first round,” Williams said. “But the good thing is that we only played them once this year, not twice, so this is only our second time around and they’re a really good team that can put points on the board so it should be a gun game.”

Ferris State is 21-8 on the year and finished third in the GLIAC with a 15-5 conference record. They average 77.5 points a game and lost their lone matchup of the year against the Lakers 72-68 at home.