PAINESVILLE, OHIO – Lake Erie College (3-1) trailed by double digits in the first half but pulled away in commanding fashion from Mercyhurst College (3-1), en route to a 67-51 victory at the Jerome T. Osborne Family Athletic & Wellness Center in Painesville, Ohio.
The Storm win avenged a 92-66 loss to the Lakers last season in Erie. After starting the season with a loss to DI Detroit Mercy, Lake Erie is now 3-0 against NCAA Division II teams.
Lake Erie was lead by senior guard Brandon Smith (Bedford, Ohio/Bedford/Cuyahoga Community College) with game-high tying 14 points. Following closely behind was redshirt freshman Jamil Dudley (Massillon, Ohio/Massillon) with a career-high 13 points, 11 of which came in the first half, including three three-pointers. The Storm also got solid contributions at the big man spots as sophomore Rich Austin (Cleveland, Ohio/St. Ignatius) went for 10 points and six rebounds with senior Matt Grendel (Independence, Ohio/Independence) adding eight points and seven boards. Mercyhurst's Matt Lee matched Smith with 14 points.
Mercyhurst scored the game's first five points as Lake Erie did not lead in the first 17 minutes of the contest. The Lakers led by as much as 10 at 21-11 and by a 28-19 margin with under eight minutes to go in the opening half when the Storm started on their run. An Austin layup started the 17-3 spurt to close the half which was capped by a Dudley layup to put Lake Erie ahead 34-31 at the break.
The Storm kept the momentum going with six of the first eight points coming out of the half, all coming from junior forward Eric Worthey (South Euclid, Ohio/Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy), but the game was still tight at the 12:42 mark as the Storm led 44-40. Lake Erie proceeded on an 11-0 run in the next three minutes to take command of the game for good as a Dudley fast break layup gave the Storm a 55-40 edge with 9:17 to play. The Lakers were able to claw within eight but a big three-pointer from sophomore guard Tom Parker (Cleveland, Ohio/St. Ignatius), who set career-highs with six points and five assists, put Lake Erie ahead by double digits for good at 60-49 with 5:35 to go. The Storm held Mercyhurst scoreless in the game's final 4:19.
Rebounding was huge in the Lake Erie when, as it outrebounded Mercyhurst, 37-22, including 12 offensive boards. The Storm shot 48.9% from the field (23-of-47) and 52.9% on threes (nine-of-17) while the Lakers shot just 39.1% (18-of-46) and 33.3% (six-of-18), respectively. It was a season-low scoring output for Mercyhurst, as it came into the contest averaging 82.7 ppg.
Winners of three straight, Lake Erie will face a challenge Thursday as it opens GLIAC play against Wayne State University in an 8:00 p.m. start at the Osborne Center.