By Jackson Heiden
The Grand Rapids Community College men’s basketball team could not find an answer defensively as the Vikings big man combo was deemed too much to handle, blowing by the Raiders, 91-70.
The Raiders opened the game with solid defense, getting consistent blocks and forcing missed shots, which only did so much as the ball was not falling in on the other side of the court. They found themselves down quickly, 12-7, with 15 minutes left to go in the first half.
“I thought we just settled a lot offensively,” said GRCC’s head coach Joe Fox. “I thought we needed to be a lot more aggressive…Teams scout us now and we have to be able to adjust on the fly and I didn’t think we did a good job of that tonight.”
The Raiders’ offensive struggles worsened as they found themselves forcing shots and allowing the Vikings to get open in transition, resulting in a 15-4 run to put the Vikings up 31-16 with 10 minutes to go in the half.
Freshman-forward Alex Ehnis stepped up and played strong defense and forced Glen Oaks to go into an offensive slump as they turned the ball over a couple of times. However, the Raiders’ shaky offense provided no help as the Vikings would figure out their offense and go on an 11-4 run with five minutes to go in the half.
As the defensive struggles continued, the Raiders began to feed redshirt-sophomore Andrew Moore the ball as he scored 10 in the final five minutes, to cut into the Vikings 42-28 lead going into the half.
The Raiders came out of halftime looking to be more aggressive in the paint as redshirt-freshman forward Nyuon Nhial would take the paint by the reins and force himself to the line four different times in five minutes. He went on to make seven of eight free throws. This helped the Raiders cut their deficit down to 11 points making it 54-43.
“He just stayed around the basket and made some stuff happen,” Fox said. “He had a tough first half on Saturday, and his second-half Saturday and then all day today was good. He’s playing all over the place and that’s what we need. We need a lot of production out of that spot and he’s doing a great job.”
With the offense finding its legs, Glen Oaks began to make contested shots which in return killed any hopes for a Raider comeback, making it 68-55 with 10 minutes to go in the game.
Eventually, the Raiders’ offense stalled out just as sophomore guard Ryel Daye, who played through injury, began to heat up. Daye went on a stretch of scoring eight in five minutes. The Vikings’ offense kicked it into high gear to finish the game as the Raiders had no answer.
“I thought we did a much better job defensively in the second half,” Fox said. “They hit a couple of tough shots and that’s tough to win. You defend well for 30 seconds and then they hit a 20-foot two-pointer at the buzzer.”
With a lot of the Raiders’ offensive starters being out or having reduced minutes due to injury, the Raiders’ looked to others for help. Nhial finished the game with 17 points, seven rebounds, and two blocks. Daye finished with 13 points along with 13 rebounds. Moore had 14 points, four rebounds, and four assists off the bench. Redshirt-freshman guard Danyel Bibbs scored 13 as well.
The Raiders look to snap out of their offensive struggles as they have one more home game before hitting the road again as they welcome Jackson College this Wednesday, Feb. 9 at 7:30 p.m. at the Gordon Hunsberger Arena.
“We’ve played them enough this year, even though we’ve played once,” Fox said. “They’ve been on a really good run lately, and they’re playing some good ball so it should be a fun game.”