Lakers lose 71-69 at Grand Valley State

Photo Courtesy Kati Doty
Photo Courtesy Kati Doty

ALLENDALE, Mich.- Lake Superior State men's basketball led by as many as four points with under four minutes remaining in Saturday's Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference matchup at Grand Valley State, however, the visiting Lakers (14-8, 11-7 GLIAC) went cold from behind the arc down the stretch and fell 71-69.

LSSU opened the game on a torrid stretch, eventually leading by as many as 11 points with 5:03 left in the first half before the GVSU Lakers (15-10, 11-7 GLIAC) finished the final five minutes with a 12-4 run to trail just 37-34. During the GVSU run, LSSU went 1-for-3 from the field and 0-for-2 from behind the three-point line and committed four turnovers.

GVSU maintained the pressure out of the break and opened the second half with a 6-0 run to claim a 40-37 lead with 17:32 remaining, forcing the Lakers to call a timeout.

A three-point play from Drake Baar with 14:00 minutes left in the second half gave GVSU their largest lead of the game, 47-39, capping a 7-0 run for the home team.

Reserves Michael Smutny and Malek Adams helped lead a resurgence off the bench for LSSU, pulling the Lakers to within one point with 11:25 remaining.  Smutny, a senior center from Saline, Michigan, scored 13 points off the bench on 4-for-4 shooting from the floor and a 5-for-5 mark from the free-throw line.

Moments later, senior Jordan Dasuqi hit a three to put the Lakers back up by two, 59-57, with 7:24 to play, capping a 7-0 run for the Lakers over a one minute and 25-second stretch. Dasuqi finished with 12 points in 34 minutes while making his third-consecutive start for LSSU.

With 1:04 remaining, a corner-three from Juwan Starks gave GVSU a 70-69 lead, his 16th point of the night off the bench. Following a missed three-pointer by Dasuqi on the next possession with nine seconds remaining, Starks was fouled by Akaemji Williams on a three-point shot, giving him three free throws and his team still clinging to a one-point lead.

Starks missed his first two attempts at the line before LSSU coach Steve Hettinga called a timeout to draw up the final play. Starks hit his third attempt to put GVSU ahead 71-69 and give LSSU the ball for a chance to tie or take the lead.

On the final play Williams gathered the ball just before half-court and blew past his defender with a screen from Josh Goldschmidt, Williams decided to pull the play back out to the top of the arc and heaved a last-second desperation heave that hit iron and ended up in the hands of Starks as time expired.

Williams led the Lakers with 14 points, seven rebounds, and a game-high nine assists.

Shooting woes in the second half led the Lakers to hit just 2-of-19 (10.5 percent) attempts beyond the three-point arc and post a 35.5 percent clip from the field. Conversely, GVSU made 48.1 percent of shots from the field and went 3-for-6 behind the arc in the second half and out-rebounded LSSU 21-13 in the final 20 minutes.

The Lakers return home for their final regular season homestand next week, hosting Saginaw Valley State at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday and closing the weekend with Senior Day against Wayne State at 3 p.m. on Saturday.