Women’s basketball tallies 14th win at halfway point of regular season


GVL / Bethann Long

Madeleine Smith, Staff Writer

The Grand Valley State women’s basketball team steered themselves back into the winning column after two road wins this past week against Wisconsin-Parkside (83-73) and Purdue Northwest (62-54).

After a commanding 12-0 start to their season, the Lakers took their first loss against Lewis University at home that finished 63-69. With their perfect record soiled by the upset from the Flyers, GVSU went into the game against the Parkside Rangers with something to prove, more importantly senior guard Emily Spitzley.

Spitzley not only recorded a career-high 31-point effort to lead her team to an overtime victory, but the dominant effort on the offensive end also led to Spitzley scoring her 1,000th career point.

In his eighth season as the head coach for the Lakers, Mike Williams explains how a player like Spitzley is always impacting the team on and off the court. 

“She’s really become a defensive player, (but) she’s a rebounder, communicator, leader and she hits big shots when we need ‘em, and has what it takes,” Williams said. “That’s kinda who she’s become (as a player).”

A quick 4-0 jumpstart by GVSU would soon be taken over by Parkside as the Rangers managed to score five unanswered points and maintain the first period leading up to the buzzer (12-17).

Parkside continued to hold onto their lead that reached up to eight points just under the halfway marker of the second period (16-24), but an individual 5-0 run from redshirt freshman guard Nicole Kamin cut into the Laker deficit after a true three-pointer and a pair of free throws. No matter how many quick spurts GVSU put together, wouldn’t allow the Lakers to take control of the lead as the halftime buzzer sounded and Parkside still held a six-point lead going into the break, 29-35.

The Rangers continued to expand on their offensive momentum as a 3-11 run built the opponent’s largest lead of the game, 35-46. GVSU wouldn’t allow their poor shooting efforts to determine the outcome of the game just yet as they managed to pull together an offensive run of their own to make the deficit 43-50 going into the fourth quarter. 

GVSU’s defense would allow Parkside to go back up by 10 points (43-53), but this would be the largest deficit the Lakers would endure in the remainder of the dogfight. A 7-0 run sparked by Kamin and redshirt sophomore forward Rylie Bisballe would be capped off by a huge three-pointer from Spitzley to bring the Ranger lead down to just three points (50-53) with plenty of game left to play. 

The following seven minutes and 29 seconds would be a back-and-forth affair between both offenses with the largest lead being four points in favor of Parkside (65-69) with just under 90 seconds remaining in regulation. Down three points and just 27 seconds remaining, Spitzley came up clutch once more and drained another three-point jumper to knot the scoreboard at 70-apiece.

A costly turnover by the Rangers eliminated their chance of stealing a win with a last-second score as senior forward Hannah Kulas stripped the ball away and gave the Lakers one last chance at sinking a heart-breaking buzzer beater. However, the two seconds remaining wouldn’t be enough time to get a good look at the basket as a missed shot attempt by redshirt freshman guard Paige Vanstee would send the game into overtime – the first overtime period for the Lakers this season.

GVSU learned from their mistakes made in regulation, as strict defense allowed just one free throw and a last-second layup to be converted by Parkside and a 13-3 run finished the game 83-73.

“Going into overtime we gained more momentum,” Williams said. “After coming back, Emily had that big shot (in the fourth quarter to put us in the game). We were locked in defensively and I think we made some great decisions.”

Similarly, the game against Purdue Northwest ended in a win for the Lakers but was a tie for the lowest margin of victory for the Lakers through the first 15 games of the season (78-70 Ferris State, Dec. 1). 

GVSU attacked the rim early against PNW as the Lakers held an eight-point lead going into the second period, 16-8. Even with five turnovers, GVSU managed to shoot five for 10 from the field in the second period as the shooting was capped off by a buzzer-beating layup from Spitzley that put GVSU up 29-22 at the break.

PNW was able to cut into the deficit in the second half as they railed by just four points (36-32), but the Lakers found their rhythm once more and didn’t look back as the final period began with a 10-point lead in favor of GVSU, 47-37 with redshirt sophomore guard Ellie Droste leading her team with nine-individual points in the quarter.

No matter how hard PNW fought, the Lakers managed to keep their lead, hitting 9-10 free throws in the final quarter and picking up win No. 14 of the season to maintain an undefeated conference record of 5-0.

Droste led the team with a game-high 17 points followed by 12 from Spitzley and 10 points recorded by Kamin.

GVSU will return home this week for two more GLIAC matchups as they play Wayne State Jan. 12 and Saginaw Valley State Jan. 14.