Hot scoring propels men’s basketball over Panthers


Courtesy / GVSU Athletics

Brian Bloom, Staff Writer

The Grand Valley State University men’s basketball team made the short trip to Davenport University for a rematch with the Panthers as the Lakers won 87-61 to secure the season series (2-0) and improve to 13-9 overall.

“We came out with the energy needed to compete and to win, especially after the loss at home (against Parkside),” said Head Coach Cornell Mann.

The game began as a back-and-forth affair, as neither side was able to take a multiple possession lead.

After a successful layup made by junior forward Marius Grazulis to tie the game at 20 apiece, the Lakers found momentum to build their lead to 11 points with 4:08 remaining in the first half (33-22).

After a 0-5 run by the Panthers, sophomore guard Trevon Gunter deflated any hopes of Davenport getting back into the game as he drained three consecutive three-pointers to give the Lakers a commanding 42-30 lead with just over one minute left to play in the half. 

“(My mindset was to) do all I can do for the team to be successful; the team has the ‘we over me’ mentality and I just tried to do my part to get the win,” Gunter said.

The second half was all about the Lakers as their offensive and defensive efforts were too much for the Panthers to slow down.

Following a converted and-one play by graduate student forward Chinedu Kingsley Okanu, redshirt senior forward Isaiah Carver-Bagley made his presence known, nailing two three-point shots in 34 seconds to extend the lead to 20 points with 14:30 left to play (57-37) and reaching as high as 27 points (73-46) as they never looked back to secure the win 87-61 win

The team shot a respectable 47% from the field in the win, but an efficient 50% from beyond the arc with 12 three-pointers. 

The Lakers dominated both ends of the boards as well as they out-rebounded the Panthers 49-30 and found extra opportunities on offense with a 23-4 second chance points battle.

“Every game we have to do our best to dominate the glass,” Mann said. “It’s how we’re built. We have to continue to annihilate the glass to be competitive.” 

GVSU also dominated in the fast break, scoring 29 points in transition to Davenport’s eight.

Leading the way for the team was Grazulis, who recorded a double-double with 14 points and a team-high 11 rebounds. 

“Our mindset was giving all our energy and focusing on the defensive end of the ball,” Grazulis said. “Coach (Mann) drew it up in the locker room and told us to rebound like our lives depended on it. Defensive rebounding propels us forward and gives us extra momentum.”

Gunter led the team in scoring with 15 points, all coming from three-pointers in the first half as Okanu added 11 points and five rebounds.

“We have two starters at each position,” Mann said. “People make a lot of the starters, but it’s about who finished (the game). The bench played well, but the starters played extremely well too.”

The team will return to action on Feb. 9 as they host Michigan Tech University in a GLIAC conference showdown in hopes to sweep the Huskies and win their sixth game in the last seven.

With a 6-3 home record and just six games remaining in the regular season, Gunter knows the home court advantage must be capitalized on. 

“We don’t want to let our fans down (at home),” Gunter said. “When we come out and don’t give energy on our home court, we feel like we’re letting them down. We want to do well for them and being at home gives us the extra edge.”

GVSU will host the Huskies at the GVSU Fieldhouse Arena with tip-off at 8 p.m. followed by another home game against Northern Michigan on Feb. 11 starting at 3 p.m.