PAINESVILLE, Ohio – Lake Erie snapped a six-game losing streak by downing the Cardinals of Saginaw Valley State University (Mich.) on Wednesday. A swarming LEC defense fueled a second-half surge in an eventual 79-73 win for the Storm.
Senior guard Riley Thomas (Cardington, Ohio/Cardington-Lincoln) scored 23 points and crossed over the 1,000-point mark for his career. Senior center Garrick Sims (Barberton, Ohio/Barberton) scored 15 points and garnered a hard-working team-high eight rebounds in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tilt at the Osborne Athletic Center.
LEC forced 11 second-half turnovers. Senior guard Tom Parker (Cleveland, Ohio/St. Ignatius) had a game-high four steals in the contest. For Lake Erie (4-6, 1-3 GLIAC), the victory marked the team's first since Nov. 14.
Saginaw Valley State (5-3, 2-2) got 29 points from guard Damon Bozeman. The Cardinals and Storm traded baskets in a fast-paced opening eight minutes. The two sides evenly divvied up the first 36 points on the Osborne Athletic Center scoreboard, but SVSU then went on a 6-0 run to open up a 24-18 lead.
The Cardinals made 9-of-their-first-16 from the floor, but a stout Lake Erie defense then led the way to an eight-point swing, and the Storm led by two (28-26) at the 4:48-mark.
In an opening stanza that included 12 ties and lead changes, the Green & White outscored the Cardinals, 35-34.
Michael Morris (New Palestine, Ind./New Palestine) and Andy Bosley (Columbus, Ohio/Orange) led the Storm with eight points apiece in the frame while Sims and Parker had six each. The Storm held a very slight edge in shooting, hitting 15-of-32 (46.9%) compared to the Cardinal's 14-of-30 (46.7%) and in rebounds, 18-15.
LEC scored the first five points of the second half to take a 40-34 lead. When Riley Thomas knocked down a pair of free throws at 14:56, the Storm found themselves up by 10, 51-41.
SVSU gradually whittled away at that Lake Erie lead. By the 10-minute mark, the Storm lead was cut to four, 56-52.
With 8:19 left, the Storm went on a 6-0 run, highlighted by a huge dunk by Roy Alexander (Columbus, Ohio/Walnut Ridge), as the Storm increased their lead to 11. The Cardinals slowly chipped away at the Storm lead in the ensuing minutes and brought the lead down to just three, 73-70, with 1:19 left.
The Storm had ice in their veins down the stretch as Thomas, Morris and Sims made six free throws in the final 40 seconds to seal the Storm win.
Bosley and Morris finished the night with 12 and 10 points, respectively, to join Thomas and Sims' effort. The Storm shot 47.5% (28-of-59) from the floor for the game but were outshot by the Cardinals who hit 31-of-56 (55.4%). The Storm won the battle of the boards, 31-27. Defensively, the Storm forced 20 turnovers and tallying 11 steals.
The Storm is off until the after the new year, traveling to Lake Superior State University (Jan. 2) and Northwood University (Jan. 4).