PAINESVILLE, OHIO – The Lake Erie College men's basketball team went toe-to-toe with the nation's 25th-ranked team in a defensive slugfest before visiting Hillsdale College pulled away late for a 61-54 victory Thursday night (Feb. 3) at the Jerome T. Osborne Family Athletic & Wellness Center.
Neither team shot over 40 percent in a game that was close throughout, with six ties and 19 lead changes.
A 7-2 run by Lake Erie (5-14, 1-11 GLIAC) late in the first half gave the Storm a 27-20 lead following a three by sophomore Eric Worthey (South Euclid, Ohio/CVCA) with 4:18 to go. But a 6-0 run by the Chargers to close the half got them within a single point at intermission.
The second half went back-and-forth, with the lead changing hands six times in the first 3:34. A three by freshman Riley Thomas (Cardington, Ohio/Cardington Lincoln) gave the Storm a five-point lead, but Hillsdale (16-3, 10-3 GLIAC) once again responded and tied things at 39-all on a lay-up by Brad Guinane.
Guinane led all scorers with 15 points.
Later in the period, a pair of free throws by sophomore Garrick Sims (Barberton, Ohio/Barberton) put Lake Erie ahead 48-46 with 6:12 remaining. It would remain that way until 4:32 was left and Brent Eaton hit a three-pointer to give the Chargers the lead.
Lake Erie tied it back up at 50-50 with 3:24 to go, but Tim Dezelski connected from beyond the three-point arc for game's biggest bucket at the three-minute mark, giving the Chargers a lead they would not relinquish.
Hillsdale, which hit 19-of-27 free throws in the game, went six-of-seven down the stretch to seal the win.
Sims led Lake Erie in scoring for the third straight game, tallying 14 points to go along with a game-high nine rebounds. Thomas and senior guard Ethan Bradshaw (Cincinnati, Ohio/Harmony Prep) each finished with 10 points.
The Storm went 21-of-54 (38.9%) from the field, including just four-of-15 from distance. Lake Erie had just 11 free throw attempts, making eight.
In addition to Guinane, who also led the Chargers with eight boards, Eaton had 12 points while Dezelski and Nick Meinert chipped in with nine each. Hillsdale was only slightly better shooting the ball than the home team, hitting on 39.1% (18-of-46). The Chargers were six-of-18 from beyond the arc.
Lake Erie will look to snap its four-game losing streak Saturday (Feb. 5) when it travels to Columbus, Ohio to play Ohio Dominican University. The Panthers won this season's first meeting, 72-64, back on Jan. 8 in Painesville.