GV Women’s Basketball starts the 2021-22 regular season 2-0


GVL / Annabelle Robinson

James Herrick, Staff Writer

The Grand Valley State University women’s basketball team started their 2021-22 regular season schedule with back-to-back home games on Friday, Nov. 12, and Saturday, Nov. 13. On Friday they defeated University of Missouri-St. Louis by a score of 61-54 followed by a 62-32 win on Saturday against Maryville University.

These games marked the team’s first time playing at home in front of fans since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, which helped make the games feel a little more special.

“It was really exciting,” said junior forward Hannah Kulas. “This was like one of the first times my mom got to come out and see us play, so she was excited. It’s really nice to have the cheerleaders, the band yesterday, the dance team. It’s really great.”

On Saturday, the Lakers didn’t disappoint in front of their home crowd. They started the game out strong on the defensive end of the court, forcing two shot-clock violations in the first quarter. On the offensive side of the floor, the Lakers were able to collect several offensive rebounds and convert on shot opportunities inside the paint. This helped them end the first quarter with a 13-5 lead.

“We got some offensive rebounds and some easy put-backs by going to the glass,” said coach Mike Williams. “If we are going to score points we’ve got to continue to do that.”

The Lakers extended their lead early in the second quarter as their first two made shots came from behind the three-point line. These baskets came from junior guard Samantha Gehrls and sophomore forward Haley Swing. Kulas added a three-pointer of her own late in the quarter. This helped GVSU enter halftime with a 30-14 advantage.

Kulas led the charge for the Lakers in the third quarter as she hit two more three-pointers and added two fast-break layups. GVSU dominated the third quarter, finishing at 48-21.

Despite having the game in hand, the Lakers never let off the gas in the fourth quarter. They continued to make buckets on the offensive side of the court while their defense forced Maryville to settle for contested shots. This culminated in a 62-32 victory.

Kulas finished the night as the leading scorer with 24 points while adding four rebounds and two assists. Freshman guard/forward Rylie Bisballe finished with eight points, nine rebounds, two steals, an assist, and a block. Gehrls played an impactful game as she had three points, seven rebounds, four assists, four steals, and two blocks.

As a team, the Lakers looked strong in every facet of the game. Defensively, they held Maryville to a 24.5 field goal percentage with 14 steals and seven blocks. After the shot, they were able to crash the boards collecting 47 rebounds to Maryville’s 34. Of Maryville’s 40 missed shots, GVSU only allowed 11 offensive rebounds. Offensively, the Lakers passed the ball well as they finished with 21 assists and they added 11 second-chance points. This performance was a large step up from GVSU’s Friday performance.

“I thought we had a lot more energy than we did (Friday),” Williams said. “I thought (Friday) we had energy but today we had a different level of pop in our step and I think it showed on the glass. I think it showed on all the ball screen switches and the handoff switches. I thought we were spot on. When we did make a mistake, they made us pay.”

For GVSU, these are the types of performance they look to continue to produce as the season progresses.

“We want to play good, consistent basketball every time we step on the floor,” Williams said. “I thought, for the most part, this weekend we did that. If we can continue to do that we’ll have a chance at doing well this year.”

The Lakers will take to the road next week as they travel to Ohio to take on the University of Findlay on Sunday, Nov. 21.