PAINESVILLE, Ohio—Riley Thomas' 24 points led the Lake Erie College men's basketball team to a 86-76 win over Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference South Division foe Malone University in Painesville Thursday evening (Feb. 7).
Thomas (Cardington, Ohio/Cardington-Lincoln) went a perfect 12-of-12 from the free-throw line.
The teams exchanged points early in the first half until Malone (11-9, 8-9 GLIAC) went on a 7-0 run to take a 16-10 lead. The Storm (7-13, 4-12 GLIAC) answered with a 6-0 run of their own to tie the game. Following a media timeout, the Storm went on a 6-2 run to go ahead 26-20. The Lake Erie defense stepped up, holding the Pioneers scoreless for over five minutes, outscoring Malone 14-0, to close out the half with a 42-28 lead.
Garrick Sims (Barberton, Ohio/Barberton) led the Storm with 11 points in the first half while Thomas netted 10 as nine different Lake Erie players scored in the first-half. The Storm shot 45.9% (17-of-37) from the floor while outrebounding Malone 21-16. Christian Graves led the Pioneers with 12 first-half points.
Malone fought back in the opening minutes of the second-half, going on a 11-2 run to cut the Storm's lead to 51-45. The Storm responded with a 12-0 run of their own to pull ahead 63-45. The Pioneers would cut the lead down to eight with 1:18 remaining but Thomas went six-of-six from the free-throw line to close out the game for a 86-76 Storm victory.
Thomas led all players with 24 points on five-of-nine (55%) shooting from the floor and a perfect 12-of-12 from the free-throw line. Trey Howard (Lima, Ohio/Lima Shawnee) scored a career-high 16 points, his fourth straight contest in double-figures. Sims ended the game with 13 points. Rich Austin (Cleveland, Ohio/St. Ignatius) grabbed six rebounds and scored eight points. Steve Walczak (Columbus, Ohio/Olentangy) collected a career and team-high seven rebounds. Jamil Dudley (Massillon, Ohio/Massillon) scored eight points off the bench in his first game back after missing the previous four games.
Four Pioneers ended the game in double-figures- Cory Vedlhuizen (15), Stephen O'Daniel III (15), Che Richardson (11) and Graves (17). Zach Bates collected a game-high eight rebounds. The Pioneers struggled from the free-throw line, going 12-of-22 (54.5%) for the game.
The Storm shot a season-high 87.9% (29-of-33) from the free-throw line. Overall, the Storm shot 39.7% (27-of-68) from the floor. Malone owned a 40-35 advantage on the boards. Lake Erie forced 21 turnovers off of 14 steals and converted the turnovers into 26 points.
The Storm is back in action at home on Saturday as they host GLIAC foe Walsh University at 5:00 p.m.