PAINESVILLE, OHIO – Lake Erie College (8-13, 3-11 GLIAC) led nearly the entire first 20 minutes and trailed by just a bucket at halftime but stumbled out of the gates in the second half en route to a 82-55 loss at GLIAC North leading Ferris State University (14-7, 11-3 GLIAC) at the Jim Wink Arena in Big Rapids, Mich.
The Storm was led by sophomore center Rich Austin (Cleveland, Ohio/St. Ignatius) with 17 points and eight rebounds. Austin scored 12 of his points in the first half, keeping Lake Erie in the game. At the other starting big man position, senior forward Matt Grendel (Independence, Ohio/Independence) added nine points and four boards. The Bulldogs were led by Kenny Brown with 29 points with Dietrich Lever notching 19 points and Daniel Sutherlin adding 16 points and 11 rebounds.
Shooting was the main difference in the contest as Ferris State shot 56.0% (28-of-50) from the field while Lake Erie converted at a 39.0% (23-of-59) clip. There was a huge disparity on three-pointers as the Storm was three-of-17 (17.6%) while the Bulldogs went nine-of-18 (50.0%).
Lake Erie raced out to a 5-0 lead to open the game on a Grendel three and a Austin layup and led 9-2 at 16:01 after a layup by sophomore guard Nate Tait (South Euclid, Ohio/Brush/Alderson-Broaddus). Ferris State scored seven straight points to tie the game and would also knot the score at 13-13 and 15-15 but never led in the first 12 minutes. The Bulldogs took their first lead at 18-17 with 7:32 to go in the half and after the Storm briefly retook the lead, regained the advantage and moved ahead 25-21 on a pair of Sutherlin free throws at 4:40. Lake Erie proceeded on a 7-0 run to go ahead 28-25 on a layup by sophomore guard Tom Parker (Cleveland, Ohio/St. Ignatius) at 2:35. The lead would then change hands five times in the final 95 seconds of the first half as a FSU buzzer-beating three gave it a 34-32 advantage at the intermission.
That would be the last lead change of the game as the Bulldogs scored the first five points of the second half to take command. They extended it to a 13-4 run to open their first double-digit lead of the night at 49-38 with 13:44 to go. Two straight layup by reserve sophomore guard Alex Davis (Macedonia, Ohio/Nordonia) cut the gap to seven at 49-42 but with the Storm trailing 52-44 with 11:08 to play, the veteran Bulldogs went on a run to put the game away for good. They scored 15 of the game's next 16 points in just a 3:33 span to go ahead 22 at 67-45 and Lake Erie could never recover as FSU shot 20-of-27 (74.1%) an 18 minutes stretch spanning late in the first half and throughout much of the second half.
The Storm stay in Michigan when they will face one of the teams chasing Ferris State in the GLIAC North, Grand Valley State University, Saturday at 3:00 p.m.