PAINESVILLE, Ohio-- In a game that featured five ties and eight lead changes, the Lake Erie College men's basketball team came out on top, defeating Northern Michigan University 89-82 on Saturday (Jan. 11) in the Storm's final Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) North Division game of the year.
Riley Thomas (Cardington, Ohio/Cardington-Lincoln) led the Storm with 25 points, hitting nine-of-13 shots from the floor. Garrick Sims (Barberton, Ohio/Barberton) scored 18 points, including a 9-0 run of his own to start the second-half for the Storm, hitting seven-of-nine shots.
The Storm scored the first five points of the game but the Wildcats bounced back and took the lead. Up 12-11, Northern Michigan went on a 10-2 run to move ahead by 11. The Storm answered with a 10-0 run to take a one point advantage.
The teams battled back-and-forth the rest of the half, with two ties and six lead changes in total. Trailing 40-39 in the closing seconds, Sean Howard (Indianapolis, Ind./Lawrence North) stole the ball and drove it down the court for a fast-break layup to put the on top, 41-40, heading into the break.
Thomas led the Storm with 12 points in the first-half, hitting five-of-his-seven shots from the floor. Howard had eight points off the bench. Overall, the Storm shot an impressive 65.2% from the floor in the first-half, including seven-of-11 three-pointers. Northern Michigan was led by Marcus Hall's nine points. The Wildcats held a slight 12-11 lead in the rebounding department. The Storm bench accounted for 17 points in the half.
The Storm momentum carried over to the second-half, starting on a 9-0 run- all of which were scored by Sims- to pull ahead by ten. The Wildcats fought back, tying the game at 60, but a Nick Deitsch (Lewis Center, Ohio/Orange) three-pointer put the Storm back ahead.
After the Storm went up by five, the Wildcats chipped away and took the lead at 76-75. An Andy Bosley (Columbus, Ohio/Orange) free-throw tied it at 76 and was followed up by a huge and-one-layup by Steve Walczak (Columbus, Ohio/Olentangy) to put the Storm back out front. A pair of Tom Parker (Cleveland, Ohio/St. Ignatius) free throws put the Storm up by five. After a good jumper by the Wildcats, Parker drove in for a layup to bring the lead back up to five. Thomas scored on a physical jumper in the lane to increase the lead to seven, putting the game out of reach for the Wildcats. Parker and Thomas hit a pair of throws down the stretch to secure the Storm victory.
In addition to Thomas and Sims, Howard and Parker also finished in double-figures for the Storm. Howard scored 11 off the bench on a perfect four-of-four shooting, including three three-pointers. Tom Parker also had 11 points to go with his six assists and two steals. Sims grabbed a game-high six rebounds as the Storm won the battle of the boards, 26-25. Overall, the Storm shot 60% (30-of-50) from the floor and 55% (11-of-20) on three-pointers. The Storm were efficient from the free-throw line, converting 18-of-22 (81.8%) attempts.
Ethan Blackwell led the Wildcats with 22 points. Terry Nash (15), Marcus Hall (15) and Justin Newell (13) also scored in double-figures. Northern Michigan shot 51.1% (24-47) for the game. They led the Storm in free-throw attempts (31-22) but converted just 74.2% of them.
The Storm is back in action this Thursday (Jan. 16) to host Malone University to open GLIAC South play.