With seven games remaining in the regular season, every game matters for Wayne State’s men’s and women’s basketball teams as they seek a berth in the GLIAC Tournament.
The women’s team enters the week currently holding the seventh spot in tournament seeding, while the men’s team is two games out of the final tournament spot.
After beginning the calendar year with wins over Northern Michigan and Michigan Tech, WSU lost five consecutive conference games by an average of three points, before splitting last weekend’s action — beating GVSU and falling to Davenport.
Sophomore guard Darian Owens-White has been a reliable scorer for the Warriors all season, averaging a team-high 18.4 points per game, and the offense has been bolstered by the midseason emergence of senior forward Jovan Henderson, who has averaged over 18 points per game since Jan.10.
However, a recurring theme for the team all season has been falling behind early and needing to make furious comebacks at the end of games. WSU has lost seven games this season by five points or less, with five losses in games decided by three points or less.
While head coach David Greer has shortened his rotation to eight players, getting production from the bench will be important going forward. Additionally, the Warriors must keep games close early on, as they haven’t won a game all season when they have trailed at halftime.
In most seasons, WSU’s four first-year players would get a year to adjust to college basketball. Those plans were altered when head coach Carrie Lohr inserted three freshmen into the starting lineup versus Davenport University on Dec. 6.
A mixture of youth and senior experience has propelled the team to a 9–6 record after starting the season 2–4. Senior guard Ja’Nae Williams leads the team in scoring, averaging 11.6 points per game. Of the four freshmen, guard Grace George has emerged as an offensive threat for WSU, averaging 7.5 points per game.
While getting offensive productivity from different players has the team within striking distance of a tournament berth, having one or two players consistently score and take pressure off of Williams and junior guard Nastassja Chambers could make the difference for WSU as they try to clinch a tournament berth for the second consecutive season.
Both teams return to the Matthaei versus Wisconsin-Parkside on Feb.14.
Cover photo by Jonathan Deschaine