GV basketball drops another road exhibition against EMU


Courtesy / GVSU Athletics

Ermias Stewart, Staff Writer

Grand Valley State University men’s basketball faced off against Eastern Michigan University in their second exhibition game of the season last week, as they came up short on the road in a 69-85 loss.

The Oct. 27 game was the Lakers’ second game of their current six-game road trip, and redshirt freshman guard Trevor Smith said it’s never an easy feat when playing on the road, but at the same time, it creates a momentum build-up for the first home game.

“Being on the road is tough, but it’s just going to make us 10 times better when we get to play at home,” Smith said.

The Lakers struggled once more to find their shooting rhythm against the Eagles but still managed to stay within striking distance at the sound of the halftime buzzer with the scoring reading 33-35 in favor of the opponent; 40% 3PT (6-15), 37.1% FG (13-35).

However, the defense was persistent as they held EMU to low scoring percentages as well; 45.2% overall (14-31), 20% FT (2-10) and 35.7% 3PT (5-14). 

In a back-and-forth battle, the lead changed several times in the first half alone as the largest lead mounted to just seven points in favor of the Eagles while the Lakers led five different times (five points largest lead). 

“We were more comfortable as a team going into this game as you can see by our first-half performance,” freshman guard Charles Turner said. “As a true freshman, (there were) some nerves and it was a big game. I do feel more comfortable (going forward), nonetheless.”

The exhibition continued to be either a back-and-forth affair or at least a game within striking distance for the Lakers all the way up to roughly seven minutes left (52-59 Eagles). 

However, EMU’s offense would expand on its newfound rhythm and never look back as GVSU was only able to cut the deficit to five points (59-64) as the Eagles took off with the match and only allowed the Lakers to come within seven points.

In the loss, graduate student forward Chinedu Kingsley Okanu was the only Laker to score in double-digits (11) on 50% shooting (5-10) while adding six boards to the box score.

Freshman guard Jalen Charity led the team in total minutes played (32) and contributed nine points (4-7 FG) with five rebounds, followed by senior guard Luke Toliver (eight points, 3-7 shooting) and eight points from both freshman guard Britain Harris and junior guard Austin James.

One would be remiss without addressing the fact that GVSU did their best to hold their own against two nationally-recognized players in sophomore guard Noah Farrakhan (former IMG Academy player) and sophomore forward Emoni Bates (ranked five-stars out of high school).

“The great thing about our team is that we don’t fear anyone,” Smith said. “When we (are) on that floor, it’s mano a mano. It’s tough against those top players but we just wanted to show we can play at a high level against high-caliber players.”

Bates finished the game with 27 points (9-17 FG) and six rebounds while Farrakhan had 22 points (9-13 FG), three assists and two blocks in the Eagles’ win.

Even in the loss, redshirt senior forward Isaiah Carver-Bagley believed the Lakers capitalized on solid looks at the basket but will have to eliminate the mental errors as a team.

“The game felt free,” Carver-Bagley said. “Most of the game we were up it felt like we got the looks we wanted. Down the stretch, we had a couple mental mistakes but for the most part, we were solid.”

Although Turner didn’t see as much action on the floor, his opportunity to analyze the team on the bench allowed him to see what the team needs to address going forward in the season.

“When we were playing good defense, we didn’t shoot the ball the best but when we shot good, we didn’t play our best defense,” Turner said. “I think if we connect the two then we turn this loss into a win. We were (also) a bit fatigued later in this game but we still (managed to) play good. We will be ready (the) next go around, though.”

The bench unit contributed 30 of the Lakers’ total points on the night while there were 12-total lead changes. The fast break opportunities also fell in favor in the loss as GVSU led EMU 19-13 in points off turnovers while also getting by with 12 fast break points.

With another NCAA DI up next at Michigan State University, Smith said that the team needs to take it one game at a time and focus on playing team basketball.

“Just have that mindset,” Smith said. “It’s a big game and a big crowd, but we aren’t worried about that.”

The exhibition will be on the road in East Lansing on Tuesday, Nov. 1 with tip-off at 7 p.m.