By BRIAN LESTER
ALLENDALE, Mich. — It wasn’t the final score University of Findlay women’s basketball coach Jim Wiedie was looking for on Saturday afternoon.
A 77-68 loss on the road isn’t exactly a reason to smile, but Wiedie was pleased with the effort his Oilers gave against Grand Valley State in a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference encounter at the GVSU Fieldhouse Arena.
“We went into the game with the goals of giving max effort and competing hard. I thought we did that,” Wiedie said. “We didn’t hit shots. We haven’t shot well in I don’t know how many games, and they shot the ball really well. We’re in a slump right now, but I really like the way we battled.”
For the Oilers, it was their third straight loss overall and fourth consecutive loss in conference play. But they didn’t go down without a fight.
Trailing 45-36 at the half, UF (5-5, 2-4 GLIAC) showed a lot of life in the early part of the second half, closing the gap to 47-46 on 3-pointers by Ciara Geiger and Nikki Gunning and a layup by Ashley Andrews.
Yet, as was the case throughout the day, Kat LaPrairie came through with a big-time shot to push the momentum back in the Lakers’ favor.
LaPrairie drilled a 3-pointer with 13:54 left in the game and would finish her day with 22 points to pace the Lakers (7-3, 5-1). She scored 18 of those points from beyond the arc.
“We knew we needed to focus on her, but she was able to make some big shots,” Wiedie said. “She really got going and hit some tough shots in the second half. She is a great player.”
An inability to hit shots from close range didn’t help either. The Oilers were aggressive throughout the game and showed no hesitation in attacking the basket for layups or pulling up for short jumpers in the lane.
The problem was the shots didn’t go down on a day when UF shot only 32.8 percent (22 of 67) from the field. UF did capitalize at times in transition, scoring 20 points off turnovers, but shot just 9 of 25 from beyond the arc.
“We had so many wide-open layups and bunny shots that didn’t go in,” Wiedie said. “Our 3-point shooting is supposed to be our strength, but we didn’t capitalize today. For whatever reason, it just hasn’t come together offensively for us yet this season.”
The Oilers played hard on both ends of the floor, especially on defense where they forced 21 turnovers, as they took advantage of their fast style of play.
But what they couldn’t do was avoid the big shots as every opportunity they had to perhaps take control was erased by a big shot from the Lakers.
Karli Beasley drilled three treys and finished with 13 points, while Kaleigh Kenny added 10 points.
LaPrairie led the Lakers with 22 points, while Bailey Cundriff added 14 points. GVSU shot a blistering 60.9 percent (28 of 46) from the floor, including an 11 of 23 effort from 3-point range.
Despite the current funk the Oilers are in, Wiedie is confident his team will get on track. They will get their first opportunity Thursday in a 6 p.m. home game against Saginaw Valley State (6-3, 4-2) at Croy Gymnasium.
“We’re just in a stretch right now where things aren’t going our way,” Wiedie said. “We are going to be a good team. We just have to stay positive and keep working hard to get better.”
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FINDLAY (5-5, 2-4 GLIAC)
Kenny 3-2–10, Wuebker 3-3–9, Beasley 4-2–13, Andrews 3-2–9, Bonar 2-0–5, Klein 0-2–2, Klausing 0-0–0, Gunning 3-0–7, Kessler 1-2–4, Geiger 1-2–5, Lewis 2-0–4. TOTALS: 22-67 15-22 — 68.
GRAND VALLEY STATE (7-3, 5-1)
LaPrairie 8-0–22, Cairnduff 5-2–14, Tucker 2-0–4, Cripe 1-0–3, Crandall 2-4–8, Lutz 3-2–10, Dawson 4-2–10, Steinmetz. 0-0–0, Grazulis 3-0–6. TOTALS: 28-46 10-17 — 77.
3-Point GOALS: Findlay 9-25 (Beasley 3, Kenny 2, Andrews, Bonar, Gunning, Geiger); Grand Valley State 11-23 (LaPrairie 6, Cairnduff 2, Lutz 2, Cripe).
rebounds: Findlay 31 (Kenny 4, Beasley 4, Gunning 4, Lewis 4); Grand Valley State 40 (Crandall 12, Cairnduff 8).
ASSISTS: Findlay 11 (Andrews 3); Grand Valley State 22 (Crandall 7).
STEALS: Findlay 11 (Beasley 2, Gunning 2, Geiger 2); Grand Valley State 2 (LaPrairie, Cairnduff).
BLOCKS: Findlay 0; Grand Valley State 5 (Cairnduff 3).
TURNOVERS: Findlay 7; Grand Valley State 21.
TOTAL FOULS: Findlay 17; Grand Valley State 16.
HALFTIME: Grand Valley State, 45-36.