PAINESVILLE, OHIO – The new look Lake Erie College women's basketball team's opening night result looked a lot like the squad that won 16 games last season as plenty of new faces keyed the Storm to a 67-61 nonconference win over Seton Hill University Tuesday night (Nov. 13) at the Jerome T. Osborne Family Athletic and Wellness Center.
Senior forward Ashar Harris (Columbus, Ohio/Africentric/Morehead State) recorded a monster double-double in her first game in the Green and White, sophomore Jackie Murray (Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio/St. Vincent St. Mary) had a career night in her first start at the point and a pair of freshman reached double figures in their collegiate debuts as the Storm (1-0) won their third straight season opener.
Neither team led by more than five points in a first half that saw both squads show some opening night jitters. Harris had eight points and nine rebounds in the first 20 minutes, but the Storm shot just 39.4% as a team and turned the ball over eight times. The Griffins (0-1), however, shot just 28.6% and committed seven turnovers of their own and Lake Erie led by four, 28-24, at the break.
With Harris and Murray leading the way, the Storm appeared to pull away with a 12-2 run that made it a 13-point game at 49-36 with just over 11 minutes to go.
But the Griffins made a charge. Paige Alviani hit a pair of three-pointers and a lay-up during a 15-2 run, assisting on Tiara Stossel's lay-up that tied the game at 53-53 with 4:02 to play. Murray missed a three on the Storm's next possession and Seton Hill came down poised to retake the lead for the first time since early in the second half.
But redshirt junior wing Chloe Irish (LaGrange, Ohio/Keystone) stepped in front of Meghan Mastroianni's pass and raced to the other end for a lay-up that put the Storm back in front 55-53. It was a lead Lake Erie would never relinquish.
Harris scored eight points, including four free throws, in the final 1:45 and Murray hit a pair from the line in the final 30 seconds as the two combined for Lake Erie's final 10 points.
Showing the form throughout that made her one of the nation's best rebounders at Division I Morehead State, Harris grabbed a game-high 18 rebounds, including a dozen on the defensive end to limit Seton Hill's second-chance scoring opportunities. She went eight-of-15 from the field and five-of-six from the line to finish with 21 points, also a game-high, for her 36th career double-double.
Murray reached double figures for the first time in her career, hitting three three-pointers en route to 12 points. She also grabbed five boards and handed out a career-best six assists to lead the Storm offense. Murray also had three steals to lead the defensive effort. Freshman post Kaeding Skelton (Grand Haven, Mich./Grand Haven) had a strong start, going five-of-seven from the field for 10 points while fellow first-year player Skylar Hebert (St. Johns, Mich./St. Johns) chipped in with 10 points off the bench. She helped LEC to a 20-7 edge in bench scoring.
Katie Gattuso led three Griffins in double figures with 17 points and 12 rebounds. Alviani finished with 16 points, hitting four from beyond the arc overall, and Kelly Brennan added 11.
Overall, Lake Erie hit 26-of-63 from the field for 41.3% and went 11-of-14 (78.6%) from the line, including 10-of-13 in the second half.
The Storm limited Seton Hill to 34.8% (23-of-66) overall and forced 16 turnovers. The Griffins connected on seven three-pointers, but did so in 24 attempts (29.2%).
Lake Erie is idle until after the Thanksgiving holiday break. The Storm returns to action on Saturday, Nov. 24, at home against the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.