Lakers look to continue winning ways at Ferris State and Grand Valley this week

Photo Courtesy by Sam Downs
Photo Courtesy by Sam Downs
Lake Superior State Men's Basketball
 Record  13-7, 10-6 GLIAC
 at Ferris State  8 p.m. ET, Thursday
 at Grand Valley State  3 p.m. ET, Saturday 
 Video  FSU | GVSU

 Audio

 ESPN 1400 | GVSU
 Live Stats  FSU | GVSU
 GLIAC Stats  GLIAC Leaders
 FSU Record  20-3, 14-2 GLIAC
 GVSU Record

 13-10, 9-7 GLIAC

Opening Tip

After picking up three straight victories at home last weekend against Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference rivals, Lake Superior State men's basketball hits the road this week to face North Division foes Ferris State and Grand Valley State.

The Lakers (13-7, 10-6 GLIAC) open the week at 8:00 p.m. on Thursday (Feb. 9), facing the GLIAC-leading and 11th-ranked Bulldogs (20-3, 14-2 GLIAC). LSSU looks to revenge a 111-103 loss at home against FSU from January.

Saturday, the Lakers travel to Allendale to rematch GVSU at 3 p.m. and enter with a 99-78 win over the Grand Valley Lakers (13-10, 9-7 GLIAC) to their credit in the previous matchup. The meeting between LSSU and GVSU can be viewed live online for free to fans with a TV provider login on ESPN3.com.

LSSU Alumni Gathering (Saturday, Feb. 11 at GVSU)

On Saturday, the LSSU Alumni Association welcomes alumni, family and fans to join fellow Lakers for a special gathering in room B16 of the Fieldhouse at 2:30 between games of the basketball doubleheader. 

Free pizza, breadsticks and refreshments will be served, plus special door prizes provided by the LSSU Alumni Association. Alumni Board member Alex Bozymowski ('75) is hosting the event. The gathering is free for all LSSU alumni and fans, while donations for the Alumni Association will be accepted.

Laker Notes

  • After rattling off three impressive victories last week, LSSU moved into sole possession of third place in the GLIAC North Division.
  • LSSU enters this week second in GLIAC scoring at 88.0 points per game, just behind conference-leading FSU at 88.1 points per game.
  • This week the Lakers rank third in field goal percentage at 48.5 percent on the season and fourth in three-point field goal percentage at 39.2 percent.
  • During last week's trio of victories, the Lakers combined to shoot 42 percent from behind the arc.
  • Leading the Lakers from deep is the sophomore starting duo of Carson Manger and Blake Marquardt. Manger has hit 10-of-19 three-pointers over the Lakers' last five games and ranks seventh among GLIAC shooters at 44.0 percent from deep this season.
  • Marquardt ranks ninth among GLIAC shooters with a 43.0 percent mark from behind the arc.
  • Senior guard Jordan Dasuqi, a key reserve that has made seven starts this season, ranks third on the team and 14th in the GLIAC with a 42.1percent clip from behind the arc.
  • The Lakers' 17.2 assists per game leads the GLIAC.
  • With 344 assists on 629 made field goals this season, the Lakers have assisted on 54.7 percent of their made baskets this season.
  • LSSU ranks third in the GLIAC and 14th nationally with a team assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.46 with 344 assists and 235 turnovers.
  • Defensively, the Lakers rank 15th among GLIAC teams in points allowed per game (79.9) but limit their opponents to the fifth-lowest field goal percentage (43.5) and the sixth-lowest three-point field percentage against (34.5).
  • The Lakers also lead the conference in forcing their opponents to commit 15.2 turnovers per game and rank third in steals with 7.4 takeaways per game.
  • For his efforts in the week, junior guard Akaemji Williams earned GLIAC North Division Player of the Week honors last week.
  • During the three-game winning streak, Williams averaged 25.0 points, 7.3 assists and four steals per game.
  • Williams continues to rank second among GLIAC players at 22.0 points per game.
  • Williams also leads the conference in both assists per game (8.1) and steals per game (3.0).
  • Williams, a native of Pontiac, Mich., has been named the GLIAC North Division Player of the Week three times this season notched his 1,000th career point earlier this season in a 90-85 victory over Findlay (Dec. 10).
  • Williams has seven double-doubles on the season via points and assists.
  • After Williams, junior center Michael Nicholson ranks second on the team with 11.8 points per game.
  • A native of Clarkston, Mich., Nicholson also ranks 10th in the GLIAC with 7.0 rebounds per contest and ranks third with 1.5 blocks per game.
  • Nicholson also ranks fifth among GLIAC players with a 60.9 percent mark on field goals this season.
  • Manger and Marquardt round out the LSSU starters averaging double digits per game with 11.7 points per game from Manger and Marquardt scoring 10.9 points per game.

This Week's Matchups

Ferris State- Thursday at 8:00 p.m.

Thursday's meeting with the 11th-ranked Bulldogs presents a rematch for the Lakers, hoping to avenge a 111-103 loss earlier this season. When the teams met in January, it marked just the second and last time the Lakers have lost at home this season (9-2).

In that first meeting, the Lakers fought back from a 13-point deficit with 5:32 remaining in the opening half, using a 15-2 run to tie the game 46-46 with 2:15 left in the first half. Senior center Michael Smutny connected on a pair of three-point field goals and two free throws during the stretch, giving the Lakers eight points in six minutes off the bench during the first half.

On the strength of 54.5 percent (18-33) shooting from the field in the first half, the Bulldogs were able to fend off the late push and claim a 49-46 advantage at the break.

In the second half, the Lakers struggled to slow down the hot shooting from FSU as the Bulldogs finished 59.4 percent from the field in the second half. The Bulldogs also capitalized on 15 fouls against LSSU, making 10 more free throws than the Lakers in 12 more attempts at the line in the final 20 minutes.

Sophomore center Zach Hankins continues to lead the Bulldogs with 14.5 points per game and leads the GLIAC in rebounding with 9.8 boards per contest and is the top shot blocker with 4.3 blocks per game this season.

Grand Valley State- Saturday at 3:00 p.m.

Following the home loss to the Bulldogs in January, the Lakers quickly rebounded with a convincing 99-78 victory over the GVSU Lakers inside Cooper Gym. Paced by 23 points from Williams and a 22-point performance from Marquardt, LSSU easily dispatched of GVSU to move into a four-way tie for second place in the GLIAC North Division standings.

Since then, GVSU has gone 3-4 and have lost their previous four games, including being held to their lowest point total of the season in a 64-42 loss at Saginaw Valley last Saturday.

Seniors Luke Ryskamp (13.2 ppg) and Trevin Alexander (11.0 ppg) are the only GVSU players averaging double-digit scoring on the year. Junior center Drake Baar has earned starts in each of their last four games and is averaging 9.6 points per game.

Last Week (Northwood 113-79, W | NMU 69-67, W | MTU 98-84, W)

A much-needed stretch of three home games for the Lakers to right the ship turned into three victories last week as LSSU claimed sole possession of third place in the North Division standings and fourth overall in the conference.

LSSU opened the week with a 113-79 drubbing of travel partners Northwood, paced by a double-double from Williams on a game-high 26 points and 11 assists. Nicholson also recorded a double-double, logging 13 points, and a game-high 10 rebounds.

The Lakers followed with a mid-week victory, 69-67, over Upper Peninsula rivals Northern Michigan in a game that came down to the final minute. Again, Williams led the charge for LSSU, collecting seven points in the final three minutes and finished with a game-high 21 points.

Williams concluded the week with a stellar performance against the Huskies, avenging a disappointing loss two weeks prior in Houghton. Williams again marked a game-high in scoring with 28 points, including 10 points in the overtime period as the Lakers outscored MTU 20-6 in the extra five-minute period.

A Look Ahead

This week marks the last full week of road games during the regular season for the Lakers, with their final road test coming up at Northwood on Thursday, February 23. Next week the Lakers return home for their final regular season homestand, hosting Saginaw Valley State next Thursday (Feb. 16) and Wayne State on Senior Day next Saturday (Feb. 18).