The no. 14-ranked Grand Valley State University (13-1) women’s basketball team extended its winning streak to eight, beating rival Ferris State University (11-4) last Thursday, January 14, with a score of 67-59.
To add to the already high stakes of every GVSU-FSU sporting event, the two teams took a tie for first place in the GLIAC, with each school holding a 5-1 record in conference play.
The Bulldogs got off to a fast start in the game and jumped out to a quick 10-4 lead with 6:48 remaining in the first quarter. However, the Lakers would hold them to just three points for the remainder of the quarter, finishing on two three-point baskets from junior guard Emily Spitzley to give the Lakers an 18-13 lead heading into the second quarter.
GVSU coach Mike Williams said his team’s competitiveness on the offensive side was one of many keys to gaining and maintaining their lead over the course of the game.
“I think the most important thing is that when we miss a shot or they make a mistake, they’re not afraid to come down and take the next shot,” Williams said.
The Lakers would continue their upward momentum as freshman point guard, Ellie Droste, had an impressive nine-point quarter to extend the lead to double digits at halftime.
“The center of the paint was really wide open,” Droste said. “I feel like they were sucking on shooters, especially with Emily’s (Spitzley) last match she just had, so that really opened things up for me.”
However, the Bulldogs didn’t give up and made an early 9-0 run at the start of the third quarter, forcing Williams to time out.
“We called a time-out and our players responded,” Williams said. “They were focused, they knew what to do and went out and did that and bumped that lead back up, so it was good to see.”
Outside the timeout, freshman forward Rylie Bisballe laid out a layup to end the run for the Bulldogs and help the Lakers finish the third quarter with a short 7-2 run of his own.
Again, in the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs narrowed Laker’s lead to five with 2:58 left in the final quarter of the game. On ensuing possession, Spitzley was fouled on a two-point attempt and would take both free throws to extend the lead to seven, triggering a final run to drive the Bulldogs away.
Spitzley scored seven of her team-high 22 points in the fourth quarter to hold off FSU. She said it hasn’t put a lot of pressure on being one of only four upperclassmen this season.
“I let the game come to me more,” Spitzley said. “I think that helps me play better and helps us get more wins and better results in games.”
In addition to her 22 points, Spitzley also had five rebounds, a block and made four of her eight three-point attempts in the win. Droste finished with 17 points, five rebounds and three assists. Bisballe came in with 19 points, eight rebounds and two blocks.
Now with first place in the GLIAC conference, the Lakers will turn their attention to the second place team in the GLIAC, Michigan Technological University (10-4), as they face the Huskies on Thursday, January 20. in Houghton, Michigan.