PAINESVILLE, Ohio - The Lake Erie Storm used stifling first-half defense and 49 percent shooting overall to pick up a 77-66 home win over the Urbana University Blue Knights on Saturday (Jan. 23) afternoon at the Jerome T. Osborne Family Athletic & Wellness Center. It was the sixth straight win for the Storm, marking the second-longest winning streak in program history.
Junior forward Alyssa Wagers (Stow, Ohio/Stow) tallied a career-high 23 points with 12 boards for her ninth double-double of the season and the 22nd of her career. She hit 9-of-13 from the field and nailed all five of her free throws in the game.
Senior guard Renese Ames (Bedford, Ohio/Bedford) chipped in 18 points, seven rebounds and three rebounds. It was the 10th straight time she scored in double figures.
"Our senior and junior captains did what we needed them to do to win today," head coach Bob Booher said.
The Storm (14-8) dominated the first 20 minutes of play, surrendering only eight field goals and 18 points, limiting the Blue Knights to just 35 percent (8-for-23) shooting. Meanwhile, Lake Erie piled up 39 points in the first half, shooting 45 percent (14-for-31), including a 5-for-9 mark from three-point range.
Lake Erie had not played since a home win over Ursuline on Jan. 12 and the Storm used the time off to rest and also work in some quality practices.
"[The first half] was a result of the practice we had this week," Booher said. "We've been doing a lot of shooting and it paid off."
Ames was awesome in the first half, scoring 13 of her 18 in the first 20 minutes.
"Renese was doing whatever she wanted out there," said Booher. Lake Erie began to stumble a bit in the second half as the Blue Knights worked a 23-point Storm lead all the way down to five with 6:22 to play after a 32-15 run.
Ames and Wagers, though, scored the next five points of the game to build the lead back to 10 with just over four minutes to play.
From there, it became a battle at the free throw line, and the Storm was up to the challenge, connecting on 20-of-23 in the game, including a 7-of-8 performance by sophomore forward Jen Caiola (South Russell, Ohio/Chagrin Falls) in the second half. Her pair of hits with just under two minutes left secured a 12-point Storm advantage.
The 14 wins for Lake Erie are the second-most in program history and stands just two shy of the program's top mark of 16 from the 2007-08 season.
"This is the type of effort and intensity we've been taking into every game," Booher said.
He also pointed out the defensive acuity of sophomore guard Britt Busson (Wadsworth, Ohio/Wadsworth) and the way she leads the Storm on that end of the floor. She tied a team-high with three steals, while adding five points and three assists.
"Busson sets the stage defensively," he said. "The young kids are beginning to grow up." The Storm has the next two days off before returning to the floor on Tuesday (Jan. 26) for a matchup at Seton Hill. Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m.
Lake Erie returns home on Saturday (Jan. 30) for a 2 p.m. tip with Ohio Dominican. Fans are encouraged to wear white for the Winter Storm Warning at the Osborne Center as the Storm will try and "white out" its future conference foe. The first 50 students in attendance will get a free T-shirt. The men's game against Ohio Dominican will follow at 4 p.m.