Tenacious first half defense propelled Lake Erie College (6-17, 2-14 GLIAC) to a 66-50 win over GLIAC North foe Northern Michigan University (7-16, 2-14 GLIAC) at the Berry Events Center in Marquette, Mich. The Storm allowed just 17 first half points, the cagers best half of defense this season as Northern Michigan went just five-of-22 (22.7%) from the field in the first half.
The victory snapped an eight-game slide for Lake Erie and is its second GLIAC victory in its first year as a member of the conference.
Lake Erie was led by freshman guard Riley Thomas (Cardington, Ohio/Cardington-Lincoln) with a game-high 17 points, keyed by eight-of-eight shooting from the foul line. Senior guard Ethan Bradshaw (Cincinnati, Ohio/Harmony Prep) also added 13 for the Storm as the Wildcats had three in double figures led by DeAndre Taylor with 15.
Lake Erie jumped out to an 8-2 lead at 14:26 after a pair of free throws by Bradshaw. The Storm would lead the entire half as an 8-0 run late in the half brought the advantage to 24-13 following a jumper from freshman forward Rich Austin (Cleveland, Ohio/St. Ignatius) at 1:52. The Green and White took a 26-17 advantage to the break.
The Storm never relinquished the lead in the second half for just the second wire-to-wire victory this season. After a Bradshaw three-pointer to open the second half extended the lead to 29-17, Northern Michigan clawed back into the game, as it trailed by just five with 9:59 to play. However that is as close as the Wildcats would get as Lake Erie ran off six straight points as scores from junior forward Matt Grendel (Independence, Ohio/Independence), sophomore center Garrick Sims (Barberton, Ohio/Barberton) and sophomore guard Alex Davis (Macedonia, Ohio/Nordonia) helped secure the victory. Moments later at 5:42 a Bradshaw jumper put the Storm ahead, 56-46, and they would lead by double-digits the rest of the way.
Lake Erie, a 65% free throw shooting team entering the game, shot 21-of-26 (.814) from the line, its second highest percentage of the season. The Green and White also held a 20-10 advantage in the turnover battle.
The Storm is in action again on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. when they travel to Houghton, Mich. to take on Michigan Tech University.