PAINESVILLE, Ohio - The Lake Erie men's basketball team held a
second-half lead against No. 8 Indiana (Pa.), but came up just
short in its upset bid on Monday (Feb. 22) night at the Jerome T.
Osborne Family Athletic & Wellness Center, falling to the
Crimson Hawks, 72-66, in its season finale.
The Storm (11-16), which had its five-game winning streak snapped, led 60-56 with 7:07 remaining after freshman wing Eric Worthey (South Euclid, Ohio/Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy) converted a three-point play.
The Crimson Hawks (23-2) went on a 10-1 run after that point to take a 66-61 lead. Lake Erie clawed back, getting baskets from senior forward Darnell Campbell (Cleveland, Ohio/Collinwood) and junior guard Ethan Bradshaw (Cincinnati, Ohio/Harmony Prep) to tie the game at 66-66 with two minutes left.
From there, the Storm came up empty on four straight possessions, while IUP connected on six free throws to close out the game.
"We didn't come up with the plays we needed at the end," said Lake Erie head coach Cliff Hunt. "That's a good team we were playing against and they forced us into some bad shots down the stretch."
The Storm hung tough with the Crimson Hawks after falling behind
6-0 early in the game, eventually knotting the score at 14-14 after
a three-pointer by freshman guard Alex Davis (Macedonia,
IUP eventually went up by 10 late in the first half, 37-27, but the Storm closed with a 6-2 run to trail by only six, 39-33, at the intermission.
The Storm used the halftime to its advantage, going on a brilliant 14-2 run in the first three minutes of the second half. The run was highlighted by a Campbell steal and run-out, capped by a monster two-handed slam that brought the fans at the Osborne Center to their feet.
"We came out with defensive intensity and we were able to turn it into some easy baskets," said Hunt.
Lake Erie, trying to match the physicality of the Crimson Hawks, fell into foul trouble in the second half as five players had four fouls, leaving Hunt short-handed on his rotations.
Offensively, the Storm was still able to spread the floor for Bradshaw, who had 14 of his game-high 20 points in the second half. He had four three-pointers in the game.
Lake Erie worked the lead up to seven, 53-46, after a Bradshaw trey. The Storm was able to withstand every IUP run until the final two minutes.
"Ethan was great for us tonight," Hunt said. "He's become our most consistent go-to scorer and he did it again tonight for us."
Worthey had a career-high 16 points in 24 minutes off the bench. Playing in his final game at Lake Erie, Campbell had 13 points, five rebounds, four assists, two blocks and a steal. He finishes his career ranked fifth in Lake Erie history in points with 1,181 and fourth in rebounds with 562.
Akida McLain notched a double-double for the Crimson Hawks with 19 points and a game-high 13 rebounds. Darryl Webb added 16 points and nine boards.
The Storm shot just 37 percent (22-for-59) from the floor, but made up for its misses with 15 offensive rebounds. The Storm matched a season-low, turning the ball over just eight times.
This season, the Storm dropped three games to teams currently ranked in the nation's top 12 by a combined 10 points.
"We've really grown up," Hunt said. "We have a solid, young team, now we just have to continue to grow and work our way up."