Women’s Basketball falls short in Final Four


GVL / Sydney Lim

Justice Steiner, Staff Writer

With a matchup between the nation’s top-scoring defense against the nation’s top-scoring offense, something had to give in the NCAA DII Final Four battle between Grand Valley State University (31-3) and Glenville State University (35-1). The Lakers lost 53-77. 

“Obviously, I tip my hat to Glenville; they are a great team and we knew that coming in,” said coach Mike Williams. “We have been watching film on them and know what they are capable of.”

Defense prevailed in the first half, as GVSU took a slim 29-27 advantage into the break.

“In the first half, we kind of slowed it down a little bit,” Williams said. “I thought we did a good job of taking care of the ball and showing some composure.”

Out of the break, the game took a dramatic shift as the Pioneers began to find their rhythm in the third quarter and went into the final quarter on a 12-5 run, holding a 49-41 lead.

That momentum carried into the fourth quarter, as the Lakers were outscored 28-12 in the final quarter of play and the Pioneers came out with an impressive 77-53 victory. 

“In the second half I thought they got into us a little bit — we got rattled and we weren’t as disciplined,” Williams said. “A team like that, if you aren’t great in those two areas then they (GSU) will separate on you, which they did.”

A big part of the success of the Pioneers came from their press and aggressive defensive style, forcing GVSU into 17 turnovers, while only committing nine of its own. 

Leading the way for the Lakers in the loss was sophomore guard Ellie Droste — finishing with 14 points and a steal. Senior guard Emily Spitzley added 13 points, four rebounds, two assists, one block and a steal. Junior forward Hannah Kulas chipped in with nine points, six rebounds and two assists.

The loss marks the end of the careers for two Laker guards, Qay Stanton and Samantha Gehrls. Stanton started all 34 games for the Lakers in her final season, leading the team in steals and being nominated to the Defensive All-GLIAC team. She also averaged 6.4 ppg, 4.1 apg and shot 32% from behind the arch.

Gehrls played in 32 of the team’s 34 games this season, ending the year with a total of 52 points, 86 rebounds, 16 steals and 15 blocks.

“Grand Valley is a very special place; it has been a heck of a ride being here being a part of the women’s basketball team for four years now,” Gehrls said. “Making it to the Final Four is no easy task by any means. I am so extremely proud of the day-in and day-out grind that this team went through. I am just so proud of this group and the way we handled adversity and I know that it’s not the outcome we were hoping for, but there’s nothing to hang our heads about.”

GSU went on to defeat Western Washington in the National Championship, 85-72, securing their first national championship in school history.