Fight for Playoff Position Takes Storm to Tiffin Thursday, Home Saturday vs. Ashland

Jen Caiola (Photo by Ryan Baker/Baker Media Productions, Inc.)
Jen Caiola (Photo by Ryan Baker/Baker Media Productions, Inc.)

PAINESVILLE, OHIO --  The Lake Erie College women's basketball team looks to head into next week's Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) Tournament with some momentum, but the Storm face a very stern test this weekend against the South Division's top two teams.  Lake Erie (16-8, 10-7 GLIAC) travels to second-place Tiffin University on Thursday night, Feb. 23, and hosts front-running and fifth-ranked Ashland University for Senior Day Saturday, Feb. 25.  


LAST TIME OUT FOR THE STORM: After trailing by 10 early in the second half, Lake Erie battled back to retake the lead with over seven minutes to go against Michigan Tech. However, the Huskies never gave the lead back over the final five minutes of the contest and held on for a 69-66 win, sending the Storm to their second straight defeat.  Despite the loss, Stephanie Rogers scored 19 points while Alyssa Wagers scored 14 and grabbed eight rebounds and Jen Caiola added 12 and a career-high tying nine boards.  Lindsey Lindstrom and Sam Hoyt each scored 20 for the Huskies, who shot 52.9% for the game and outrebounded the Storm 41-24.  
CLOSE CALLS: Each of the Storm's last seven games have been decided by three points or less.  Lake Erie is 3-4 in those seven and is 5-5 overall this year in contests with a margin of four points or fewer.


PLAYOFF FEVER: Lake Erie clinched a spot in the GLIAC Tournament with its win over Ohio Dominican University on Feb. 4, putting the Storm into the postseason for the first time since the 2007-08 season. Lake Erie reached the semifinals of the Division III Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference (AMCC) Tournament semifinals and qualified for the ECAC Tournament that season.


SENIOR DAY SATURDAY: Prior to the start of Saturday's regular season finale against Ashland, Lake Erie will recognize its 2012 senior class.  There are eight members of the Storm who will be playing their final regular season collegiate game that day: Britt Busson, Jen Caiola, Cate Cianchetti, Allison Pavkov, Stephanie Rogers, Liz Stephens, Alyssa Wagers and Brittany Zele.  The core of that group has combined to win 43 games the last four seasons to become the winningest class in school history. 


WHAT A TURN AROUND:  In its first season in the GLIAC, Lake Erie struggled to a 3-22 overall record and 2-17 league mark.  This season, bolstered by the return of Alyssa Wagers and the addition of Cate Cianchetti, the Storm has shown a 13-game improvement overall to date.    

OPPOSITION POSITION:  Tiffin (18-6, 12-5 GLIAC) matched its record for most wins in a season with an 83-66 win over Central State Thursday night.  The Dragons have won three straight overall and are locked in a dead heat with Michigan Tech for third place in the overall league standings.  Senior all-conference guard Mandy Jaeb leads the Dragons in scoring at 13.5 ppg. and shoots 85.7% from the foul line.  Karli Mast is second at 11.8 points per game. Since dropping its season opener on Nov. 12, Ashland (24-1, 18-0 GLIAC) has won 24 straight games and risen to fifth in the nation in the WBCA/USA Today Coaches Poll.  The Eagles will be the top seed in the GLIAC Tournament and likely have wrapped up a spot in the NCAA Division II Championship field.  University of Dayton transfer Kari Daugherty leads the GLIAC in both scoring (20.2 ppg.) and rebounding (12.7). She is one of three Eagles averaging double figures.


SERIES HISTORY: The Storm has never beaten Tiffin or Ashland.  Lake Erie is 0-8 all-time against the Dragons and 0-6 versus the Eagles.  Earlier this year, Tiffin won at LEC 73-62 and Ashland held court at home, 76-60. 

A LOOK AHEAD: The Storm will open the 2012 GLIAC Tournament Wednesday night,  Feb. 29, at a site to be determined. 

-LEC-