ASHLAND, OHIO – Justin Garris hit a three-pointer from the corner with five seconds left to give host Ashland University a 64-63 victory over the Lake Erie College men's basketball team in the regular season finale Saturday (Feb. 26) at Kates Gymnasium.
After sophomore Alex Davis (Macedonia, Ohio/Nordonia) hit a pair of free throws to give the Storm (7-19, 3-16 GLIAC) a 63-61 lead, Ashland's Davis Harris beat the Lake Erie pressure and found an open Garris for the go-ahead bucket. Senior Ethan Bradshaw's (Cincinnati, Ohio/Harmony Prep) desperation three-point attempt at the buzzer was blocked by Blake Sauders.
The loss was the latest in a season of close calls for the Storm. Lake Erie lost 10 games this season by six points or less and a total of 14 games by single digits. Ashland (13-13, 7-12 GLIAC) defeated the Storm earlier this season in Painesville, 68-64.
Garris' shot spoiled what would have been a come-from-behind win for the Storm. Lake Erie trailed by as many as 13 points in the first half, but responded, thanks to nine opening period points from Bradshaw, to tie the game at 32-32 going into halftime.
The game had eight ties and eight lead changes, most of which came in the second half when neither team took more than a two-possession lead. The largest edge of the half came at 6:15 when freshman Rich Austin (Cleveland, Ohio/St. Ignatius) hit a jumper to put Lake Erie up 57-52.
After Ashland (13-13, 7-12 GLIAC) cut it to one on a Kale Richardson three-pointer with 3:41 to go, junior Matt Grendel (Independence, Ohio/Independence) connected on a jumper for a 61-58 lead with 3:06 remaining.
But that would be the last basket for Lake Erie. David Harris scored a lay-up with 1:18 left and Richardson hit one-of-two free throws to tie the game at 61-61 with 22 seconds left. Davis hit two free throws after Harris, believing the Eagles were down, fouled him with 15 seconds remaining, giving Ashland the ball back for Garris' late heroics.
Bradshaw and freshman Riley Thomas (Cardington, Ohio/Cardington Lincoln) led Lake Erie with 16 points apiece. Davis had eight points with four assists and sophomore center Jordan Baker (Erie, Pa./McDowell) had a career-high seven off the bench.
Bradshaw ended his career with 1,236 points – third most in school history.
Richardson paced Ashland with 16 points, matching Bradshaw and Thomas for game honors. Evan Yates scored 15 off the bench and Garris added 10 – none bigger than the final three which helped make up for his seven turnovers.
The Eagles outshot the Storm 45.1%-43.6%, including six three-pointers compared to just three for LEC. That helped overcome a minus-six turnover margin in the contest.