First-Half Run Lifts Storm to Upset of Grand Valley State, 71-62

PAINESVILLE, Ohio -- The Lake Erie College women's basketball team used a dominating stretch in the first half on its way to a 71-62 upset win over the Grand Valley State University Lakers on Wednesday (Dec. 30) afternoon at the Jerome T. Osborne Center.

For the second straight game five Storm players reached double figures, led by sophomore forward Jen Caiola (South Russell, Ohio/Chagrin Falls), who poured in 16 points and four treys. Sophomore forward Stephanie Rogers (Mentor, Ohio/Mentor) added 13 points, eight rebounds, four steals and three blocks.

"It's a great way for us to end 2009," Lake Erie head coach Bob Booher said. "We stepped up and played to the level of our competition. There's a reason Grand Valley is as successful as they are and the kids rose to the challenge."

The Lakers (7-3) jumped on the Storm early, taking a 6-0 lead, but Lake Erie (9-8) dominated the next 13 minutes with a 31-7 run to take a 31-13 lead.

Grand Valley, though, climbed back into the game, cutting it to 36-28 at halftime. Freshman guard Sarah Wojciechowski (Randolph, Ohio/Waterloo) had all 10 of her points in the first half, including three three-pointers.

Lake Erie built the lead back to 13 with 16 minutes to play, but Grand Valley worked the Storm lead down to two points, 55-53, with just under nine minutes to play after a layup by Kara Crawford.

Storm junior forward Alyssa Wagers (Stow, Ohio/Stow) hit two free throws on the next possession and Caiola hit a three with 6:40 remaining to push the lead back up to seven, 60-53.

"They were starting to overwhelm us in our man-to-man, so we switched to the zone and it created a lot of problems for them," Booher said.

The lead never slipped back under five points after that point as Caiola hit a dagger three-pointer with 2:12 to play that gave the Storm a 67-59 lead.

"Caiola hit some big shots for us," Booher said.

Lake Erie's defense forced Grand Valley to miss its next five shots to put away the game.

The Storm picked up the win despite getting hammered on the glass, 53-34. Grand Valley pulled down 24 offensive rebounds (compared to just 26 defensive rebounds for the Storm), but still held just a 16-8 advantage in second-half points.

"We aren't a really strong rebounding team," Booher said, "but we were able to apply pressure and force them into taking bad shots."

As a team, the Lakers shot just 33 percent (23-for-69) from the field and turned the ball over 18 times.

Lake Erie also held Grand Valley leading scorer Jasmine Padin to zero points on 0-for-4 shooting.

Meanwhile, the Storm connected on 45 percent (27-for-60) from the field with eight three-pointers.

Wagers and senior guard Renese Ames (Bedford, Ohio/Bedford) joined Caiola, Rogers and Wojciehowski in double figures.

"This is really another step for our young team," said Booher.

Emma Veach and Kelly Kretz paced the Lakers with 16 points apiece.

Lake Erie hits the road this weekend for a pair of games in the Fairmont State Alumni Classic. The Storm will play Concord at 4 p.m. on Saturday (Jan. 2) before battling the host Fighting Falcons at 3 p.m. on Sunday (Jan. 3).