The SVSU men’s basketball team dropped 12 spots to No. 18 in the country after losing two straight close games in Ohio last week. The struggles continued for the men this past weekend, as they dropped a pair of home games against GLIAC North Division foes, Northern Michigan and Michigan Tech.
Saturday, the team dropped its fourth straight conference game as Michigan Tech dominated SVSU from start to finish in route to a 21-point win, 93-72. The Huskies jumped out to a 9-2 lead and never looked back on their way to a 15 point halftime lead. That lead grew to as many as 28 in the second half as Michigan Tech continued to shoot the ball well, finishing the game at a mark of 63.6 percent from the field.
For SVSU, Garret Hall led the team with 29 points and six rebounds. He also surpassed Julian Taylor’s record for most three-pointers made in a career during the contest. Hall has now made 186 three’s in his career, only 16 games into his senior season.
As a team, SVSU only assisted on five of its buckets and turned the ball over ten times.
“We are going through a tough stretch right now, but we have been here before,” Hall said. “I’m confident that we can bounce back and get headed in the right direction. We have a great group of guys and I think we are up for the challenge.”
Thursday, the Wildcats of NMU handed SVSU its third straight loss and first at home, 82-76 after SVSU led comfortably for much of the game’s second half. Saginaw Valley entered the game short-handed. Hall, the Cardinal’s leading scorer, was sat by head coach Randy Baruth and junior forward Devin Dixon was reported sick.
“It was a tough loss,” senior Forward Caleb Davis said. “Giving up a 12-point lead at the end of the game is a hard way to lose. We just have to work harder.”
Both teams started the game with strong offensive attacks – neither team missing a single shot in the first four minutes of the game. SVSU earned the slight 15-13 advantage.
Two minutes later, an Isiah Johnson layup gave the lead back to the Wildcats 20-19.
A made Northern Michigan three-point shot, their fifth of the game’s opening minutes, capped off a 7-5 run.
Led by strong defense, SVSU responded with an 8-2 run of their own in their next two minutes with Caleb Davis hitting two threes to lead the way for the Cards.
At the five-minute mark in the first half, another Wildcat three tied up the game at 32.
The Cardinals wouldn’t give up their lead easily however, finishing the half with a 14-6 run that was capped off by a buzzer beating and-one shot from Wade Gelhaus. SVSU held a 46-38 half-time advantage.
Saginaw Valley were led by 61.3% shooting and CJ Turnage’s 12 points. The Wildcats hit 6 of their 15 shots from long distance. NMU’s Jordan Perez led both teams in scoring with 14 points.
Both teams came out of the break with a defensive mindset and neither team could find an easy bucket.
SVSU held the slight offensive advantage, coming out of the break with a 9-7 run in the first five minutes of the second half and extended their lead to 55-45.
With nine minutes left in the game, a Gelhaus layup extend the Cardinal lead 62-49.
The next minute was all Northern Michigan – earning a 5-1 run and bringing the lead back to single digits.
SVSU struggled to score from anywhere but the free throw line and the Wildcats took advantage to cut the lead to 68-66 with just under four minutes remaining in the game.
Following an SVSU free throw, NMU tied the game at 69 after a Cardinal turnover left Marcus Matelski wide open for three-point shot.
Northern Michigan then took the 75-71 lead after three straight SVSU turnovers lead to buckets.
The Cardinals looked to respond with 50 seconds left in the game, but couldn’t get the chances to fall.
The Wildcats hit their ensuing two shots from the line to extend the lead 77-71.
SVSU still had a chance to take the game when Malik Garner was fouled on the floor and hit both shots from the line.
With 17 seconds left, Garner’s missed three forced SVSU to foul and NMU sunk both of their free-throws.
Jake Daniels gave the Cardinals hope, knocking down the corner three with three seconds left in the game. But once again, the Wildcats hit their shots from the line to win the game 82-76.
“We did a lot of things well for three quarters of the game,” Baruth said. “Giving up three straight shots from distance and not being able to get a rebound was the difference in the game. We’ll come back. We always go through a short slump in the season. It is just coming earlier than expected.”
Next week, SVSU (11-5, 4-5 in GLIAC) will play host to tough GLIAC opponent Ferris State (13-3, 7-2 in GLIAC) on Thursday before traveling to take on rival Grand Valley (10-6, 6-3 in GLIAC) Saturday afternoon.
The Cardinals will look forward to a strong battle inside against Ferris. The Bulldogs are lead by sophomore center, Zach Hankins who averages a double-double this season.
The Lakers will bring a different offensive approach, led by their senior guards Juwan Starks and Luke Ryskamp, both averaging over 20 points per game.