Men’s basketball loses exhibition to MSU, prepares for first games of the season


Courtesy / GVSU Athletics

Ermias Stewart, Staff Writer

Grand Valley State University men’s basketball wrapped up their three-game exhibition stretch against NCAA DI teams against Michigan State, losing 56-73 on the road.

The Lakers came out with energy in the first half and held the lead for the most part, going up as far as seven points with just over 10 minutes left in the first half (20-13.)

However, the Spartans didn’t allow the lead to implode out of control as they mounted a 5-12 run to even the scoreboard at 25 apiece.

A few back-and-forth baskets ensued until the Lakers were able to regain the lead and expand on it as they pushed it to 36-31 at the halftime buzzer.

16-31 (51.6%) from the field by GVSU showed promising signs for the second as they held Michigan State to 11-23 from the field overall (47.8%) and 30% from behind the arc (3-10 3PT).

“(In the) first half, we did phenomenal,” said redshirt senior forward Isaiah Carver-Bagley. “Although we didn’t do a great job boxing out, we still handled them well.”

MSU came out of the second-half gates with a 0-6 run to regain the lead within the first 90 seconds (18:34 left to play) as graduate student forward Chinedu Kingsley Okanu snapped the Lakers’ three-shot cold streak with a jumper to take back the lead, 38-37.

This would be the final lead the Lakers gained in the exhibition as the Spartans took the lead and never looked back. However, four team fouls in under five minutes forced GVSU to scale back their aggression, opening up the floor for MSU.

“It got harder as the game went on and due to our team getting in foul trouble,” Carver-Bagley said. “We played less aggressive (due to it).”

Poor shooting from the Lakers factored into the slump as well, as the team was only able to put up 20 points on eight for 29 shooting (27.6%). The team also failed to capitalize at the charity stripe as tough outputs came from both the free throw line (2-10) and 2-12 from behind the three-point line (16.7%).

Overall, the team shot 26-40 overall, 5-20 from three and a mere 3-13 from free throws.

Kingsley Okanu was the only Laker to score in double-figures (17) as he shot 8-12 overall, while the next two highest leading scorers were Carver-Bagley and senior guard Luke Toliver with eight points each (both 3-8 overall).

In his third game as the head coach for GVSU, Cornell Mann said the game plan was similar to the one previous against Eastern Michigan.

“We just had more practice,” Mann said. “The more practice and preparation that we get, the better we will be. On post feed, we wanted to create traffic in the paint. We wanted to stop drives in the paint. We did both things in the first half but not so much in the second.”

Mann also added onto what to expect in the Lakers’ first two regular-season games on the road against Southwest Baptist and Trevecca Nazarene.

“(We will) put in our system, both offensively and defensively,” Mann said. “We have no idea how those teams will play. That’s not our biggest concern – instead, adding to the base of our system is (going to be).”

Both games will be next weekend on Nov. 11-12 as GVSU prepares for a short three-game road stint prior to their home opener.