GV women’s basketball begins season undefeated after two games


GVL / Macayla Cramer

Gabriela Garbey, Staff Writer

Grand Valley State University’s women’s basketball is now 2-0 after a successful two-game road trip against Missouri – St. Louis (81-55) and Maryville University (78-57).

Missouri would win the opening tip but fail to convert on their first field goal attempt, and GVSU wasted no time to respond to the miss with a three-pointer by senior guard Emily Spitzley as the offensive attack wouldn’t let up.

The first 10 minutes of action would see the Lakers create a 19-9 lead as a three-point attempt by senior forward Hannah Kulas just before the buzzer would miss the mark.

As the action continued in the second quarter, GVSU continued to separate themselves from the opponent no matter how hard the Tritons attempted to claw their way back. 

The defensive presence by GVSU underneath the basket and around the perimeter would prove to be too much as the Lakers opened up their lead to 41-18 on 66.7% shooting (8-12) while holding the Tritons to a mere 27% (eight of 29) for the entire first half.

Turnovers were also a significant factor for the opponent as GVSU forced 12 overall in the first half alone which created more fast break opportunities.

With a huge deficit to climb back from, Missouri was somewhat able to cut down the margin from 23 to 16 points, but a 30-second timeout by the Lakers would prove effective as an 11-2 run in the remaining four and a half minutes would close out the first three quarters with GVSU leading 66-38.

The fourth would be the only quarter the Tritons were able to outscore the Lakers (15-17), but the slight advantage was far from too late as GVSU would close out the game on an effective 5-10 shooting from the floor and a final score of 81-55.

Head coach Mike Williams is in his eighth year for the Lakers and said although the team played well, there needed to be more cohesiveness on defense in order to prevent easy baskets from happening.

“We had several players get their first collegiate minutes and we saw all of our players get minutes in the game,” Williams said. “We need to have more of a sense of urgency and awareness on the defensive end of the floor and be tighter with the basketball on the offensive end.”

All 15 players saw themselves on the hardwood as the final box score tallied three Lakers in double-digit scoring; Spitzley (12, five rebounds), redshirt sophomore center Joslyn Brennan (11) and Kulas (10, four rebounds). 

Redshirt sophomore guard Ellie Droste (nine points, three assists), redshirt freshman guard Nicole Kamin (eight points, two steals) and sophomore guard Abrie Cabana (seven points, three steals) were also influential in the win.

Overall the team shot 60% from the field (7-16 3PT) and will likely harp on converting their charity shots as they finished 14 of 20 overall from the free throw. 41 bench points, 44 points in the paint and 24 points off turnovers in total were also huge numbers that put the game away sooner rather than later.

The following day (Nov. 12), the Lakers tipped off against the Maryville Saints in a game that began slowly, scoring back-to-back with the Maryville Saints throughout most of the first half of the quarter, until GVSU took charge and went on a scoring streak. 

Playing back-to-backs can have a significant toll on a team’s overall performance, but taking conditioning and practice seriously in the offseason is what Williams believes allowed the Lakers to be prepared for such a feat.

“I think because we have a lot of players, the quick turnaround did not affect us much,” Williams said. “We had a chance to play two scrimmages the week before to get us ready for the weekend.”

Although the extra runs certainly played a factor for GVSU overall, the first quarter gave both sides the sense that the game would be a much closer battle.

Neither said of the court was able to pull too far out ahead of the opposing side as the Saints opened up the box score with a converted three-pointer that was followed up in the Lakers’ ensuing possession on a solid jumper by redshirt junior Courtney Sharland for the first points by the team (2-3, 9:09 remaining). 

Another jumper by Spitzley put the Lakers up 4-3 just half a minute later as a converted layup by Maryville allowed the opponent to regain the lead (4-5), only to never lead again on the night.

Redshirt sophomore guard Hadley Miller put the Lakers back out in front after a layup attempt (6-5) as GVSU would eventually expand their lead to 17-11 with 2:46 left in the first quarter, only for neither side to fail at putting up any other points.

The sluggish start seemed to be shaken off by the Lakers as the second quarter saw the team pull out to a 30-17 lead with 2:16 left in the first half, only for the Saints to go on a run of their own (0-7) to cut the deficit to 30-24 heading into the break.

A close-knit battle continued with multiple defensive stops and missed shots from both sides, only Maryville was able to pull within one point (33-32) and a chance to regain the lead in the first quarter with 7:14 remaining. 

However, GVSU didn’t allow themselves to fold under the newly-surfaced pressure as a 10-0 run created a bit of a cushion with under three minutes in the third quarter (2:45 remaining). 

The Saints would ultimately get only to within nine points as the Lakers stayed composed and eventually separated themselves by a commanding 23 points (78-55) all the way down to the final minutes of the ball game, eventually leading to the Lakers’ second victory in a span of 24 hours.

“I think the team played hard – we were all really excited to play together in the first games of the season,” redshirt freshman Paige Vanstee said. “With that being said, we definitely noticed some areas to improve that can help us later in the season.”

Areas of improvement were evident as the Lakers’ hot shooting numbers from the game previous dwindled down to 43.8% overall (28 of 64) and 43.5% from behind the arc (12-23 3PT).

However, solid defensive efforts held the Saints to a mere 31.7% from the field on a poor 4-17 from 3PT (23.5%). 

The Lakers also capitalized on extra opportunities as 22 points off turnovers, 21 second-chance points and 29 bench points propelled GVSU out of the tight battle and to a comfortable win.

Spitzley (16), Kamin (14), Droste (13) and Kulas (11) all combined for 54 of the team’s 78 points as the effort on the blocks allowed the Lakers to out-rebound the opponent 47-35 overall.

With the first two games of the season behind them, GVSU will host back-to-back home games this upcoming weekend against Tiffin University and Findlay College on Nov. 18-19.

Tip-offs will be at 6 p.m. and 3 p.m. on the respective dates.