UNIVERSITY CENTER – The Saginaw Valley State University women's basketball team hosted Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) rival Grand Valley State University to James E. O'Neill Arena Jr. on Thursday night (Feb. 19). It was Senior Night for the Lady Cardinals and one of SVSU's three seniors shined bright in her last contest in front of the Cardinal faithful.
Senior Samantha Zirzow scored a career-best 30 points in her last home game, but the performance was not enough as the Lady Cardinals could not get a last second shot to fall and the Lakers held on for the slim 71-70 victory.
GVSU scored the game's first seven points and opened its largest lead of the game at 13-4 with 15:45 showing on the game clock.
SVSU used back-to-back buckets by senior Shelby Herrington to cut the deficit to three at 17-14 with just over 11 minutes to play in the half.
The teams traded buckets the remainder of the half until a Grand Valley triple with 57 seconds left closed out the scoring and gave the Lakers a 35-31 edge at the halftime break.
Wendling led the charge in the opening 20 minutes, as the sophomore scored 12 points on 6-of-10 shooting and pulled-in four rebounds. Zirzow netted six points and had four boards while Graham recorded four points and four rebounds in the opening frame for the Lady Cards.
SVSU shot 46.7 percent (14-30) from the floor in the opening 20 minutes, which was slightly better than the 45.2 percent (14-32) for the Lakers. The Lady Cardinals dominated the glass by a 22-12 margin, including seven offensive rebounds that led to 10 second chance points. The Cardinal bench outscored GVSU 15-4 as well.
GVSU bumped its lead out to six points (41-35) at the 17:37 marker to start the second half. The defense for both sides picked up as the teams were held scoreless for the next 3:15. A pair of Zirzow free throws then broke the scoreless streak and started a run of 11 straight points for SVSU from the senior.
An Abby Schlicher jumper gave the Cards their first lead of the second half at 48-47 with 10:12 remaining on the clock. Junior Alex Green answered a Laker three-pointer with a triple of her own on the next possession to regain the lead for the home team.
A pair of freebies from Zirzow gave the Cardinals their largest lead of the game at 57-52 with just over seven minutes to go. The teams traded points over the next five minutes, giving SVSU a 68-63 lead with 2:09 left.
A three-pointer and a pair of free throws by GV knotted the game at 68-68, but Zirzow answered with a layup to give the Cardinals a 70-68 lead with 1:23 on the clock. The Lakers split a pair from the line to make it a one-point game with less than a minute to play.
GVSU then connected on a baseline jumper to give the Lakers a 71-70 lead with 24 seconds to go. After a couple SV timeouts, Jamie Pewinski drew a play for Zirzow but her jumper missed right and Grand Valley was able to hold on for the win.
Zirow poured-in a career-best 30 points on 12-of-21 shooting, including going a perfect 6-for-6 from the charity stripe. The senior recorded seven rebounds and a block in her final game at O'Neill Arena. She was named the Meijer "Player of the Game" for her performance.
Wendling finished in double-figures as well with 16 points and had a team-high eight rebounds. Graham and Herrington each chipped-in with six points in their final home game wearing the Cardinal red, white and blue.
The Lady Cardinals shot 48.3 percent from the field compared to only 36.1 percent for GVSU, but the Lakers knocked down 11 three-pointers in the contest. SVSU dominated the paint and glass, outrebounding GVSU 44-30 and outscoring the visitors down low by a 40-8 margin.
Saginaw Valley (7-19, 2-18 GLIAC) returns to the court on Saturday (Feb. 21) afternoon as the Lady Cardinals travel to Big Rapids for a matchup with the Ferris State University Bulldogs (11-12, 9-11 GLIAC). Tip-off is slated for 1:00 pm at FSU's Jim Wink Arena. The Bulldogs defeated SVSU in the teams' first meeting, 77-48 on January 31st at O'Neill Arena.