Women’s basketball continues hot streak at home


GVL / Bethann Long

Anthony Clark Jr., Sports Editor

Grand Valley State University’s women’s basketball team overcame a second half surge by Northwood University in an 89-63 victory to remain undefeated (5-0). 

After two corner threes by the Timberwolves to put the lead in their favor at 4-6, the Lakers would respond with a 10-0 scoring run as just over four minutes remained in the first period (4:37).

The Lakers’ full-court press would prevent Northwood from coming within five points (16-11) as the scoreboard read 24-13 after a layup by senior forward Hannah Kulas (assist from redshirt freshman guard Molly Anderson) just 16 seconds before the buzzer.

Even with a comfortable lead at the halftime break, the Timberwolves would ramp up their efforts on defense in the second quarter as a zone set would force the Lakers to cough up the ball seven different times after a few picked pockets and forced passes inside the painted area.

Two turnovers and a missed three-point attempt would finally lead to the first points scored in the second period as redshirt freshman guard Paige Vanstee tallied one of two free throw attempts at the 7:27 marker. 

However, three more turnovers by the Lakers would lead to a layup made by Northwood to bring the deficit to 10 points (25-10) just over the halfway point. Sophomore guard Abrie Cabana would respond with a much-needed three pointer for GVSU (assisted by redshirt freshman guard Nicole Kamin) as an 18-18 scoreline would ensue from each side and finish the quarter at 43-28 in favor of the Lakers.

“We didn’t take care of the ball for a stretch and we turned it over a bit,” said Head Coach Mike Williams. “We do have to do a better job, when we do turn it over or get outran on a long rebound, of getting back (on defense) and we have to get stops.”

The Timberwolves would miss their first attempt in the third period which led to a foul on the other end and allowed for GVSU to create an opportunity behind the arc redshirt freshman guard Lexi Plitzuweit from an assist by Kulas, 46-28. The three-point conversion would create a spark for the team to build a lead as high as 25 points (64-39) with 4:44 remaining in the period, but costly turnovers began to build again for the Lakers.

All of GVSU’s five turnovers in the quarter would come within a three-minute,15-second window as Northwood went on a 0-12 scoring run and shaved their deficit to 51-64 with 48 seconds left to play. However, the surge wouldn’t last as the Lakers were able to capitalize on four free throws from senior guard Emily Spitzley and push the lead to 68-51.

“We have to lock in defensively and try to make up for those turnovers,” Williams said. “That’s something we’re trying to work through with this group and I thought we did a better job in the fourth quarter as we pulled off the press a little bit and back to a man (defense).”

Any hope of a comeback by the Timberwolves diminished with each possession as the Laker defense allowed just eight points to be scored in seven minutes and 19 seconds (2:41 remaining) as the team went on a total scoring run of 21-12 to finish the game in commanding fashion.

Spitzley would finish as the game’s leading scorer with 16 points, seven assists and five rebounds. Kulas and Vanstee added 13 points each as Plitzuweit and Cabana also tied one another with 11 points apiece.

In total, the team shot 55.2% from the field (12-29 3PT) and struggled to convert the easy points as they finished 13 of 22 from the free throw line (59%). Another huge bench output saw 41 points coming from the rotation players as over a third of the team’s total points came from inside the paint (34).

As a part of the 12 redshirt players on a team of 17-total athletes, guard Ellie Droste believes the time spent analyzing the play style from the bench last season has allowed the younger players to translate their knowledge into the flow of the games.

“This year we have a really special team,” Droste said. “Last year we had a big group of redshirt freshmen that never really got to see the floor… (and) this year is their first chance to get on the floor and show what they can do. They have been really stepping up and today really showed that.”

With a three-game home stand behind them and currently No. 2 in the GLIAC rankings, the Lakers are finally heading into conference action as a two-game road trip lies ahead of them; including a challenging game against Ferris State (No. 1 position in GLIAC, 5-0).

“Making certain plays, taking care of the basketball and being sure of our passes (will allow for success this upcoming week),” Williams said. “Some of those tight-knit plays (is what) we’re going to have to get better at.”

GVSU will face the Bulldogs on Dec. 3 at 5:30 p.m. followed by a game upstate against Lake Superior State University on Dec. 5 at 1 p.m.