Men’s basketball extends winning streak to two after third-consecutive road game


Courtesy / GVSU Athletics

Ermias Stewart, Staff Writer

Grand Valley State University’s men’s basketball played their last of a three-game road stretch this past week where the Lakers slipped past the University of Findlay 73-65.

A slow start for the Oilers saw GVSU take advantage to build a 16-6 lead just inside the first six minutes of the first half (14:05). However, the lead wouldn’t last as a one-of-four shooting slump by the Lakers allowed the opponent to climb their way back into the game and cut the deficit to just two points (18-16).

Just under seven minutes later (7:07), the Oilers finally inched their way back to an even score to tie it at 25-25. A 7-7 scoring run by the teams finally saw Findlay take the first lead of the game with three minutes remaining in the half, 32-35 after a true three-pointer was made by the opponent.

The Lakers wouldn’t let up, however, as they continued to respond to the buckets made by the Oilers and ultimately took the first half scoring lead at the sound of the buzzer after a made jumper by junior forward Marius Grazulis and a three by freshman guard Harris Britain pushed the scoreboard to 42-37. 

A jumper inside the painted area by graduate student forward Chinedu Kingsley Okanu opened up the second half box score, and six and a half minutes later, two successful free throws by senior guard Luke Toliver extended the lead to 11 points (57-46) – the largest lead created by the Lakers the entire game.

However, another scoring run by the Oilers over the next nine minutes would cut the deficit to 67-62 as GVSU called a timeout to regroup with 4:25 remaining.

The break in the action proved effective as the Lakers slowed down the momentum shift and held strong in the remainder of the game, allowing just three more points to be scored by the Oilers while adding six more to their lead and closing out the game with a win.

Grazulis led the team with 15 points on six of 11 shooting while grabbing three rebounds. Okanu followed up his teammate with 13 points (6-8 FG) alongside four rebounds and an assist. Toliver and redshirt freshman guard Trevor Smith would also score in double figures as they contributed 11 and 10 points respectively.

The Lakers first half scoring percentages were some of the best of the season thus far (57.1% overall) while shooting 5-10 from behind the arc and converting 83% of their free throws (5-6).

However, the scoring slump in the second half reflected in the box score as the team’s numbers dropped across the board: 45.8% overall (11-24), 1-5 from three and a much-needed eight of 14 from the charity stripe to keep themselves afloat.

GVSU’s paint presence was also a factor as 30 points were accumulated from inside the box, 35 bench points of the total 73 and solid 14 points scored off turnovers.

The team’s defense also held the opponent to poor numbers all around as the Oilers recorded 41.1% overall, eight of 29 from three (27.6%) but converting their free scoring attempts at the free throw line with 11-13 converted.

Head coach Cornell Mann and the players were unable to be reached for comment.

After hosting their home opener on Nov. 20, the Lakers will head back on the road in a two-game stretch against Missouri – St. Louis on Nov. 22 and Maryville University on Nov. 23.

These games will start a three-game week for GVSU as the team will round out the weekend with a home game against the University of Michigan-Dearborn on Nov. 26 with tip off at 7 p.m.