Dec. 21, 2008

Courtesy of Grand Valley State

Allendale, Mich. - Grand Valley State defeated its third straight unbeaten opponent on Saturday night (Dec. 20), knocking off #6 Hillsdale, 71-69, at GVSU Fieldhouse Arena. The Lakers, which received a team-high 21 points from senior forward Kim Wyngaard, did not trail for the final 25 minutes of the game.

With the victory, GVSU improves to 7-2 overall, 4-1 in GLIAC play, while Hillsdale falls to 9-1 with a 4-1 league mark. The Lakers are coming off consecutive victories over unbeaten Ashland and Findlay and the win on Saturday marks the highest-ranked team Grand Valley State has defeated since winning a 73-71 decision over #2 Emporia State on Dec. 18, 2006.

Hillsdale jumped out to a 15-9 lead at the 14:12 mark on a jumper by guard Brooke Knight, marking its biggest lead of the game. Back-to-back three-pointers from freshman guard Rachel Woodruff knotted the score at 15-15 and the Lakers took the lead on a jumper from freshman guard Kelly Kretz.

The Chargers re-gained the lead at 21-17 on a jump shot from forward Katie Eckinger before Grand Valley State rattled off seven straight points, including a triple from Kretz. After Kretz's three-pointer made the score 23-31 with 5:30 remaining in the first half, the Lakers would not trail the rest of the game.

GVSU led 32-24 with 2:02 remaining after a pair of free throws from Wyngaard, but Hillsdale closed the half by scoring the final seven points to cut the deficit to 32-31 at intermission. Coming into the game, HC had not trailed at halftime in its first nine contests, while the Lakers were 6-1 when leading at the half.

Wyngaard totaled 12 points on 8-of-8 free throws in the first half, as GVSU hit 85.7 percent (12-of-14) of its freebies in the opening stanza. The Lakers forced 10 Hillsdale turnovers in the first 20 minutes. Charger forward Katie Cezat, the reigning GLIAC Player of the Year, recorded a double-double (10 points, 12 rebounds) by halftime.
 

 
    

Grand Valley State kept forcing the ball inside in the second half and at the 14:59 mark with the Lakers ahead 42-39, Cezat picked up her fourth foul and headed to the bench. Cezat re-entered the game with 8:29 remaining and GVSU ahead 49-44, as the Lakers could only extend their lead by two points without Cezat on the floor.

A little breathing room was given to Grand Valley State as Wyngaard hit a three-pointer with 5:49 left for GVSU's biggest lead of the game at 58-49. The Chargers continued to fight back and used consecutive trifectas from Eckinger to tie the game at 63-63. Before her back-to-back three-pointers, Eckinger was 1-of-12 shooting in the game.

Freshman guard Emma Veach drained a jumper to re-gain the lead at 65-63 with 1:02 left. Hillsdale proceeded to turn the ball over on its next possession and was forced to foul Wyngaard, who drained both free throws to extend the lead to 67-63. Wyngaard was 10-of-10 at the charity stripe on Saturday to extend her consecutive free throw streak to 18 straight freebies. She is shooting 95.6 percent (43-of-45) at the free throw line this season.

Hillsdale knocked down two free throws before Veach went to the line and drained a pair to make the score 69-65 with 16 seconds remaining. A jumper by the Chargers cut the lead to 69-67, but freshman guard Jasmine Padin hit two freebies to give the Lakers a four-point lead with eight seconds left.

With five seconds remaining, Knight made a jumper for Hillsdale to cut the score to 71-69, but the Lakers were able to dribble out the clock and secure their fourth straight victory.

Wyngaard led the Lakers with 21 points and added five rebounds. Veach notched 14 points and six boards, shooting 5-of-9 from the floor. Junior forward Lauren Buresh added 10 points and three steals in 16 minutes off the bench. Padin finished with nine points and three assists, while sophomore Elizabeth Van Tiflin had team bests of seven rebounds and four steals.

GVSU prevailed even though Cezat finished the contest with 27 points and 21 rebounds for Hillsdale. Cezat's 10 offensive rebounds were more than the Lakers as a team, which totaled just seven offensive caroms. HC led the rebounding battle, 40-30, but Grand Valley State forced 19 Charger turnovers.

For the game, the Lakers shot 81.8 percent (27-of-33) at the free throw line, including a perfect 6-for-6 in the final minute from Wyngaard, Veach, and Padin.

Grand Valley State is off until Dec. 30, when it hosts Marygrove at 6:00 p.m. in GVSU Fieldhouse Arena.