ERIE, PA. - The Lake Erie College men's basketball team jumped out to a big lead and withstood a sluggish second half in a 59-45 victory on the road at Gannon University on the opening night of the Gary Miller Classic in Erie Friday night (Nov. 27).
The Storm (2-4) raced out to a 22-4 lead seven minutes into the game and had a 24-point lead early in the second half. But the Storm went cold after halftime and saw Gannon go on a 15-0 run to cut the deficit into single digits.
However, Lake Erie recovered, hitting seven-of-nine from the line down the stretch, to snap its four-game losing streak and earn its first win over the Golden Knights (0-2) in four tries.
"To earn a win over Gannon, especially here in their place," is significant for our program," said head coach Cliff Hunt. "They have a program with rich history and tradition and for us to win here is really big."
And early on it looked like it would be pretty easy. The Storm hit nine of its first 11 shots from the field to build that 18 point edge. After the hot start, Lake Erie cooled a bit, but the Knights remained ice cold. Gannon went over nine minutes without scoring and was just three-for-17 to open the game.
Lake Erie's biggest lead of the opening half was 23 at 30-7 on a three-pointer by senior Darnell Campbell (Cleveland, Ohio/Collinwood) and the edge was 20 at the break, 34-14.
In his return to the court after missing three games with a shoulder injury, Campbell scored 10 of his 12 points in the first 20 minutes.
"I thought defensively, we were very god in that first half, and Darnell's return was a big reason for that," said Hunt. "He brings a competitiveness and desire that we need out there on the court."
The Storm started the second half much like the first, getting points on its first three possessions and building a 40-16 edge.
But then the roles were reversed. Lake Erie went cold for the next 6:39 and the Knights, who up to that point had made just seven-of-24, made 11 of their next 18. The 15-0 spurt by Gannon cut the lead into single digits for the first time since the 14:40 mark of the first half.
Junior Ethan Bradshaw (Cincinnati, Ohio/Harmony Prep) ended the drought with a lay-up and freshman Alex Davis (Macedonia, Ohio/Nordonia) followed with a pair of free throws. Bradshaw added two more free throws and the lead never went under 10 the rest of the way.
"We were a bit sluggish in that second half, but we made some plays down the stretch and that was important," Hunt said.
Freshman Eric Worthey (South Euclid, Ohio/Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy) led Lake Erie with a game and career-high 15 points. Campbell had 12 and freshman center Garrick Sims (Barberton, Ohio/Barberton) matched his career best with 10 points.
The Storm finished the game 22-of-52 from the floor (42.3 percent) and outrebounded Gannon 36-29. Worthey and Sims each picked up six boards.
Gannon was led by Preston Harris with 14 points and Travis Brannen with 13 points and seven rebounds off the bench. The Knights shot 37.8% (17-of-45) for the game, including just one-of-14 (7.1%) from three-point range.
Lake Erie will play Edinboro, an 86-77 loser to Northern Kentucky, on Saturday at 6 p.m. to conclude the Gary Miller Classic.