Night Filled With Career-Highs Pushes Storm over Tigers, 86-77

Brandon Smith (Photo by Ryan Baker/Baker Media Productions)
Brandon Smith (Photo by Ryan Baker/Baker Media Productions)
PAINESVILLE, OHIO – Lake Erie College (1-1) used a balanced attack to outlast Salem International University (0-3), 86-77, in its home opener at the Jerome T. Osborne Family Athletic & Wellness Center in Painesville, Ohio. 

For the first time since the 2009-10 season, the Storm had five members score in double figures.  Sophomore Rich Austin (Cleveland, Ohio/St. Ignatius) led with a team-high 19 points and a career-high 12 rebounds. That was one of several career-highs on the night as senior guard Brandon Smith (Bedford, Ohio/Bedford/Cuyahoga Community College) matched his previous high with 16 points and junior guard Alex Davis (Macedonia, Ohio/Nordonia) set a new personal mark with 13 points, 11 of which came in the second half.  Junior forward Eric Worthey (South Euclid, Ohio/Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy) recorded his first double-double with a career-high 10 boards and 11 points and sophomore Riley Thomas (Cardington, Ohio/Cardington-Lincoln) also reached double figures with 13 points. 

After SIU scored the game's opening basket, Lake Erie rattled off seven straight points capped off by an Austin dunk.  The Tigers methodically came back to take a 17-13 advantage but the Storm ran off a quick six points capped by on of two monstrous first half dunks from redshirt freshman Jamil Dudley (Massillon, Ohio/Massillon) to take a 19-17 edge.  The game seesawed with five ties in the first half but Lake Erie closed on a 10-3 run to take a 33-26 at intermission. 

Salem International scored the first six points of the half to close within one and would trail by that mark on three separate occasions early in the second half but never lead.  Clinging to a 41-39 advantage with 15:25 to play, Lake Erie ran off a 11-0 spurt, sparked almost single-handedly by Davis with seven straight points coming on back-to-back-to-back possessions.  The Storm pushed that edge to a game-high 18 points at 64-46 with 6:42 to go and led 68-52 with 4:38 on the clock when Salem International's press finally created a run as seven Storm turnovers in the next 2:30 of play helped the Tigers close the gap to 73-67 as 2:14 remained.  It was as close as the Tigers could get as Lake Erie went 11-of-13 from the line in the final 3:02 of the ballgame to help seal the 86-77 victory. 

Lake Erie shot a superb 56.0% (28-of-50) from the field while Salem went 24-of-64 (37.5%).  Eighteen offense rebounds helped keep the Tigers in the contest but they were plagued by a 21-of-41 (51.2%) effort from the free throw line.  The Storm held a 46-28 advantage of points in the paint. 

This game marked the first of five straight at home for the Storm  Their next contest is Saturday at 3:00 p.m. against the newest member of the GLIAC starting next season, Malone University.

-LEC-