Women’s basketball claims GLIAC regular-season title


GVL / Macayla Cramer

Anthony Clark Jr., Sports Editor

Grand Valley State University women’s basketball won back-to-back games at home this past week against Lake Superior State (77-42) and Ferris State (72-55) to complete their regular season schedule.

These two wins completed the sweep for the regular-season series against both opponents (2-0 apiece) as the Feb. 23 victory against Lake Superior clinched the 2022-23 GLIAC regular-season title for the second-consecutive season for GVSU heading into the conference postseason.

Redshirt sophomore guard Ellie Droste’s career-high 23 points (7-11 3PT, 8-15 overall) led the team against Lake Superior as both Spitzley (12) and Kulas (10) finished in double figures.

GVSU controlled the pace of the game throughout as the first quarter finished with a solid 20-9 lead for the Lakers. 

After shooting 50% in the first quarter, the team fell into a slump as the second would see the Lakers finish shooting a mere 6-18 but still managed to go into the halftime break with a 35-21 lead.

Quarters three and four were much the same as the first half with the Lakers dominating on both ends of the hardwood. The team held Lake Superior to just seven converted field goals (7-26) in the second half with GVSU never looking back and closing out the game with a 21-5 scoring run in the fourth quarter.

Less than 48 hours later, the Lakers hosted their long-time rival Ferris State in the final game of the regular season that resulted in a statement performance for GVSU.

Feb. 25 highlighted the Laker seniors in the annual Senior Night celebration as Haley Swing, Emily Spitzley and Hannah Kulas were honored prior to the tip-off of the Ferris matchup.

Intensity and anxiousness were undoubtedly present in the first 10 minutes as a slow start in the first quarter saw just a 12-6 box score heading into the second with the Lakers struggling to find their rhythm while forcing the ball into tight spots without being pressured by the defense.

“I thought we just had an unbelievable sense of urgency and intensity,” said Head Coach Mike Williams. “You saw that on the glass,  you saw that defensively, getting in gaps, our recovery, our rotations.”

“After that first media timeout (going into quarter two), we settled down a little bit,” Williams said. “Our passing got better because we were throwing the ball right to (the defense) and I thought our players did a great job at adjusting as the game went on.”

Just when the team looked to be falling into a slump for the game, Kulas converted a circus shot after a botched inbound play just before the buzzer to put the Lakers up six and give a little life to the team.

A rebounded effort made by the Lakers was seen on both ends of the court as a full-court trap and cuts into the passing lanes allowed for GVSU to begin to pull away from the opposition with a 21-13 scoring run to build a 33-19 lead at halftime.

Just like her teammate, Droste tallied the second buzzer-beater of the day with another unbalanced shot attempt to begin the ensuing landslide.

“We needed to pull back and take a breath,” Williams said. “We had a couple of open threes that ended up being airballs. It’s the moment, it’s a big game on our Senior Night and I think we got caught up in some of the emotions of the whole thing.”

With the second half being more so about the Lakers making the right adjustments on offense and defense, they would take quarter three (24-18) while dropping the final quarter by three points (15-18) as the final scoreboard read 72-55.

Kamin would tie her teammate redshirt freshman guard Nicole Kamin in points (12) with a monstrous paint presence from redshirt sophomore forward Rylie Bisballe who finished with 10 points and eight rebounds.

“I feel like for myself that I brought a lot of energy,” Kamin said. “There were times where, in the season, where I kind of noticed that I was slacking a little bit. I knew I needed to pick it up, especially with crashing the glass and just trying to give my best effort on every play.”

Droste, sophomore guard Adrie Cabana and redshirt freshman guard Paige Vanstee would also all add nine points each to the team’s final score as the win marked GVSU’s regular-season record at 26-2 (17-1 conference).

The 2022-23 GLIAC Tournament will begin this week as the Lakers host Purdue-Northwest at home. This is the same opponent GVSU managed to sweep during the regular season, but Kulas echoed the words of Spitzley when saying the Lakers know better than to not treat every game with the same amount of preparation and respect.

“They really had to fight to get into the GLIAC Tournament at that eighth seed so we know they’re going to make it count,” Kulas said.

GVSU will host Purdue Northwest at home on March 1 with tipoff at 6 p.m. in the GVSU Fieldhouse Arena.