By Kevin Lopez
After a bounce-back win on the road, the Raiders were able to keep their momentum going on the road as they beat Delta Community College 71-61 on Wednesday, Feb 2.
From the opening tip, the Raiders immediately pounced on the Pioneers as they were able to completely shut them down with their defense, forcing 10 turnovers in the first quarter, and limiting the competition to just 10 shot attempts. The Raiders also completely overwhelmed the Pioneers on the glass with nine offensive rebounds that allowed more opportunities for the Raiders with 12 points in the paint.
Sally Merrill, a sophomore forward, had seven points in the first quarter including a three pointer, while Grace Lodes, a sophomore forward, led the way with nine points of her own, scoring off of pick and rolls, using post moves, and taking advantage of free throws. The Raiders led in the first quarter 23-7.
The second quarter was a struggle for the Raiders offensively as they couldn’t put the ball in the basket as they shot 4 of 17. Despite that, they continued their effort on defense, again forcing six turnovers in the quarter, and grabbing two offensive rebounds. That stopped any chance for their opponent to take advantage as the Raiders stifled them with back-to-back 3-pointers from Marlene Bussler, a sophomore guard, and Emersyn Koepke, a sophomore guard, that allowed GRCC to take the lead going into the half 36-21.
Moving into the third quarter, it was more of a back and forth battle as neither team really took over or dominated in anything specific as they were even on the glass and both teams had active hands on defense both having five turnovers. Still, the Raiders were able to score more points in the quarter as they had 13 points on 35% from the field, while holding their opponents to nine points on 28% shooting to lead 49-30.
The fourth quarter was a scare for the Raiders as their opponent was making a strong comeback with their offense and defense. The Raiders gave up the ball nine times and the Pioneers were able to score 13 points off those turnovers. The Pioneers scored 31 points in the quarter, while shooting a scorching 75% from the field. With a three pointer from the Pioneers they were able to cut the lead to just four points.
The Raiders were able to put the game out of reach with their free throws as they took a whooping 24 free throws and made 16 of them. Bussler and Merrill each took free throws down the stretch with a combined seven points in the final 22 seconds to put the game out of reach and to secure the win for the Raiders 71-61.
Merrill finished the game with 27 points and grabbed seven rebounds, six of them were offensive rebounds.
“We always come ready and excited to be the underdog,” Merrill said. “Definitely feels great to get this win going into the weekend especially on the road. Our mentality is always to stay the same, which is just play hard and play our game.”
With that win the Raiders record improves to 10-6, bringing their conference record to 4-2, and bringing their road record to 4-5.
GRCC’s head coach David Glazier is looking to continue the success of his team
“It will be nice to be back home at Ford Fieldhouse,” Glazier said. “I haven’t spent much time on (NCMC) yet, but we will have to be ready to compete.”
The Raiders return home, where they are 5-1, to take on North Central Michigan College at 1 p.m. on Feb 4. at the Ford Fieldhouse.