Grand Valley State women two wins from joining Hope as national champs

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Women's basketball teams in Michigan sure are holding court these days.

Just days after Hope won the Division III national championship, Grand Valley State will play in the Division II Final Four, squaring off against Glenville State (33-1) of West Virginia at 7 Wednesday night at Bill Harris Arena in Birmingham, Alabama.

Michigan also remains alive in the Division I tournament, having advanced to this week's Sweet 16.

Grand Valley State's Emily Spitzley led the Lakers to this year's Final Four.

"This is a group of young women that just do their job. Everybody contributes. Everybody brings something different that helps us win," Grand Valley coach Mike Williams, in his seventh season, said Monday following a 67-44 win over Missouri Western in the Elite Eight. "And everyone did their job today. Missouri Western can really score, and our players did a great job locking in and my staff did an incredible job putting this scout together and having our kids ready to play."

Williams didn't arrive in Birmingham until shortly before tip-off, because of a family emergency.

The Lakers (31-2), seeded No. 2 in their region, didn't allow a point in the first four minutes, and led the entire game. Missouri Western was held about 30 points below its season average.

Junior guard Emily Spitzley (Westphalia) had 20 points, and junior forward Hannah Kulas, freshman guard Ellie Droste (Westphalia) and freshman guard Hadley Miller (Three Rivers) each scored 10. Sophomore forward Courtney Sharland had three of Grand Valley State's 11 steals, to go with seven rebounds.

Spitzley and Droste were two of Grand Valley State's three first-team all-Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference players. Williams was the league's coach of the year. Droste was the regional's MVP.

The Lakers opened their NCAA Tournament with a 72-46 win over rival Wayne State, before winning close games over Drury and Walsh in the second and third rounds.

Grand Valley State is seeking its second national-championship game appearance. It beat American International, 58-52, in the 2006 title game. This is its third appearance in the Final Four.

The Lakers are looking to join Hope as national championship this year. Hope won its third Division III championship over the weekend in Pittsburgh, giving the state of Michigan its 11th college national championship, men or women, in Division I, II or III.

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Twitter: @tonypaul1984