HILLSDALE, Mich. – Senior forward Chloe Irish scored a season-high 21 points and Lake Erie was a plus-12 in turnover margin, as the Storm defeated Hillsdale (Mich.), 62-54, on Thursday evening.
Irish went 7-of-13 from the floor, 1-of-2 from 3-point range and 6-of-7 from the free-throw line in leading Lake Erie to its second Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference win of the season. A staunch Storm defense forced 24 turnovers, 12 more than the Green & White committed on their side of the ledger.
The Storm and Chargers battled back and forth throughout the contest, but LEC took a lead on a pair of Irish free throws at the 6:23-mark of the second half. With the victory Lake Erie (7-10, 2-9 GLIAC) snapped a four-game losing streak. The game marked the Storm's first road affair since Jan. 4; LEC also won that game and has now won back-to-back road games for the first time since November.
A resurgent Hillsdale (5-10, 4-7) squad had been 3-2 over its previous five games. The Chargers – who will face the Storm again on Feb. 13 – are now 2-1 against LEC over the last two seasons.
The Storm were on fire at the outset of Thursday's game. LEC went 3-for-its-first-4, with Jackie Murray drilling a pair of threes. Hillsdale rallied from an early 8-2 deficit and would take its first lead (12-11) on a Megan Fogt basket at the 11:15-mark.
The two sides then traded buckets the rest of the way in the first half, with neither gaining an advantage of more than four points. That was the Chargers' lead (26-22) heading into the final seconds of the first period, and freshman guard Alyssa Brumbaugh erased three-quarters of it with a trey before the buzzer.
Lake Erie went into halftime shooting 30.3 percent (10-of-33) from the floor and 33.3 percent (2-of-6) from the foul line but trailing by just one point, 26-25. LEC was also out-rebounded, 28-14, over the first 20 minutes of play. The difference maker for the Storm was their defense.
The Green & White were a plus-9 in the turnover exchange, forcing 14 while committing just five. A pesky Lake Erie defense held the host Chargers at bay, and Hillsdale was unable to maintain a flow on offense.
A 10-4 run early in the second had LEC in front by six (38-32) by the 11:51-mark. Murray knocked down another pair of 3-pointers during the Storm's surge on the scoreboard. The Lake Erie defense did its job, as the Green & White continued to capitalize on forced turnovers, and the Chargers continued to control the boards.
LEC's offense then sputtered a bit, going 1-for-7 from the field over the middle minutes of the second stanza. The Chargers seized the opportunity and worked their way into a 45-43 lead.
Lake Erie countered with a nice 9-1 run to take a 52-46 lead by the 4:49-mark. The host Charger got within two by the 2:37-mark, but the Storm then got to the line on back-to-back possessions. Those free throws pushed the LEC lead to five (57-52) with the clock winking down under the one-minute mark.
The Green & White protected that lead by coming up with a defensive stop punctuated by a Brianna Shagovac rebound. That stop sent Lake Erie into the final half-minute of action leading by five.
The Storm would protect that lead by going 5-of-6 at the line in their final possessions. And that performance is noteworthy: LEC had been just 11-of-21 from the charity stripe over the first 39 minutes of play.
The Lake Erie defense forced Hillsdale into a 32 percent (8-of-25) shooting performance in the second half.
Led by Jackie Murray's 4-of-9 night from distance, LEC shot 35.3 percent (6-of-17) on its 3-point attempts. Murray finished the game with 13 points and three steals.
Megan Fogt had 17 points and 21 rebounds in a game that saw the Chargers out-rebound the Storm, 51-38.
Lake Erie's next game will be at Findlay on Saturday. Tip-off in the contest between the Storm and Oilers is slated for 1 p.m.
Notes: Thursday's victory pushed Lake Erie over the .500-mark on the road. The Storm are now 5-4 in away games. … The balance of LEC's schedule will consist exclusively of games in the state of Ohio. The Storm have 11 games remaining (five home, six road) on their regular-season slate. … Jackie Murray has scored 32 points over Lake Erie's last two games. Murray played 38 minutes in her 13-point night in Hillsdale. … LEC is a plus-34 in turnover margin over its last four games. … Hillsdale's 54 points mark the fewest by an opponent in a single game since Jan. 2. The Storm have now held foes under 60 points seven times this year…. Brianna Shagovac had eight points in Thursday's game. She has registered 18 points over LEC's last two games. Shagovac also stuffed Thursday's stat sheet with five boards, three assists and two steals.