(PORTSMOUTH, Ohio) – It's hard to ask for anything more than closing out a year with a win but that's exactly what Lake Erie did on New Year's Eve with a 76-67 victory over Shawnee State. The Storm (7-6) snapped a three-game skid with the victory while they handed the Bears (7-5) their first in the past three games.
It was the stout defense that showed up for the Green and White that limited SSU to almost 20 points below its per-game average. The hosts also made just 40 percent of their takes compared to 48.3 on the season.
The numbers were right on par for Head Coach Kyle Conley's group who gives up just 67.2 per game. Offensively the Storm were right at 40 percent with Erron James leading the charge with 21 points on a career night. He was 7-of-14 with four 3-pointers to lead all scorers. Gabe Kynard and Brogan Scott joined him in double-figures with 11 and 10, respectively.
The Storm raced out to a 10-point lead midway through the first half, but saw Shawnee State rally to eventually take the lead. The advantage would go back and forth as the teams exchanged six times with five ties in the first stanza alone.
That trend continued for the first 10 minutes of the second half. After the Bears tied the game at 52 at the midway point, the Storm started to pull away after Kynard sparked an 11-2 run with a bucket and Jordan Humphrey followed with a rebound off a missed SSU triple and a basket of his own.
After a Bears score, Humphrey started the big stretch of the run with a score on an assist from Lamont Rhodes. Rhodes went on to score close the rally with the next five points on a bucket and three free throws.
Shawnee State attempted a comeback once again, but this time the Bears could only cut the deficit to four before time became an issue and the Storm increased the lead as the ball dropped and the clock struck zero.
With a five-game road trek now behind them, Lake Erie now faces a friendly month of January that doesn't see it leave Painesville until the end of the month. Before that the Storm will host five games with the first coming this Saturday against rival Notre Dame College. Tip-off with the Falcons is set for 3 p.m.