The sixth-ranked SVSU men’s basketball team returned to action after a 17-day break to continue GLIAC play in games against the Findlay Oilers and the Walsh Cavaliers in Ohio last weekend.
The Cardinals got off to a slow start Saturday afternoon at Walsh. Just over a minute into the game, a Caleb Davis three got the Cards on the board and gave them the 3-2 lead.
Both teams fought back and forth for most of the first 10 minutes, but the Cardinals only got as close as 12-11 at the 17-minute mark.
With just over six minutes left in the first half, Walsh notched its largest lead of the half after a Jameel Moore three put the Cavaliers up 32-23.
SVSU responded with an 11-2 run behind threes from Garrett Hall and Davis to tie the game at 34 with three minutes left in the half. But a CJ Turnage buzzer-beating jump shot gave the lead to Cards at the half 42-41.
The second half for Saginaw Valley started eerily similar to the first, the Cavaliers going on a 11-2 run of their own in the first four minutes.
The Cards’ depth proved tough for Walsh to handle. So tough, in fact, that SVSU went on a 17-4 run to give the Cards a 61-56 lead.
The Cardinals extended their lead to 69-60 with just over nine minutes left to play.
Walsh began to show some sign of life after two Zac Carter threes cut the lead to just three points. The Cavaliers got as close as 72-70 before Saginaw Valley began to take control again.
A Davis three-point shot brought the lead to 78-71 with just under five minutes left in the game before Walsh responded with a 9-2 run to tie the game at 80.
Walsh found the lead again after Carter stole the ball and earned an easy bucket.
On the ensuing possession, the Cards regained the lead after an offensive rebound by Turnage that led to an open jump shot with 25 seconds left in the game.
Walsh did not go down easy, however. Connor Keck sunk an and-one jumper with just four seconds left to give the Cavaliers a two-point lead.
Hall gave a desperation heave to try win the game, but missed and the Cardinals lost 87-85.
Turnage led the way for the Cardinals with 16 points and 12 rebounds, but Walsh’s Carter posted a game-high 34 points that proved to be too much for SVSU.
“The guys played tough (Saturday),” head coach Randy Baruth said. “Their effort was much better than Thursday night.”
Thursday, the Findlay Oilers were led by strong rebounding and 52.5 percent shooting from the field to hand Saginaw Valley its second loss of the season, 88-78.
Findlay started strong against the Cardinals, starting the game on 7-2 run in the first 90 seconds of the game.
SVSU returned the favor after a Jake Daniels three-point shot capped off a 11-3 run for the Cardinals. The shot also gave the Cards their first lead of the game at 13-10.
Both teams battled back and forth to gain control of the game, but neither the Oilers or the Cards could grasp it with 12 minutes left in the half. SVSU held the slight 20-19 advantage.
It wasn’t until a Tyler Stern-Tucker jump shot off a Findlay offensive rebound to give the Oilers the 35-32 advantage that either team found a grip hold. It jump started a 11–4 run for the Oilers.
Devon Dixon cut the Oiler lead to 42-38 with a minute left in the first half, but the Oilers hit two three-point shots before the buzzer to bring the halftime score to 48-40.
The Oilers were fueled by 18 rebounds in the first half and Martyce Kimbrough’s 15 first-half points.
Meanwhile, the Cardinals had offensive pressure from multiple angles, with five players who had more than five points in the first half.
The second half began much like how most of the first went. Saginaw Valley cut into the lead to five after a Mike Wells three, but the Oilers responded to create a 54-45 lead with just over 17 minutes left to play.
For the next seven minutes, SVSU could not find a way to make it close until another Wells jump shot made it a 62-55 lead and jumpstarted the Cardinal comeback.
The Cards pecked at the lead with a 14-8 run that ended with a Garrett Hall layup that brought the Cardinals within one point.
Struggling to find a rhythm in their offense, the Oilers needed a bucket to create some separation and found it in the hands of Kimbrough, who brought the score to 73-69 for Findlay.
A Turnage layup and a Garrett Hall three kept the game close at 76-74 with just over two minutes left to play, but the Cardinals could not retake the lead.
Led by strong free throw shooting late, the Oilers finished the game on a 12-4 run for an 88-78 win.
“We were out-hustled and out-toughed (Thursday) against a very good team,” Baruth said. “We need to erase it from our minds and come out ready to play to continue to succeed.”
The Cardinals were led by Turnage’s 23 points and 11 rebounds.
Saginaw Valley (11-3, 4-3 in GLIAC play) will return home next weekend in games against Northern Michigan and Michigan Tech.