PAINESVILLE, OHIO – Five Lake Erie College (6-5) players scored in double figures as the Storm overcame an eight-point second half deficit in a 77-68 victory over Urbana University (3-8) in non-conference action at the Jerome T. Osborne Family Athletic and Wellness Center in Painesville, Ohio.
Senior guard Brandon Smith (Bedford, Ohio/Bedford/Cuyahoga Community College) led Lake Erie with 15 points and a season-high eight rebounds. Smith was just one point off his career-high 16 points set earlier this season.
Sophomore guard Nate Tait (South Euclid, Ohio/Brush/Alderson-Broaddus) added 14 points and classmate center Rich Austin (Cleveland, Ohio/St. Ignatius) posted 13. Also in double figures were senior forward Matt Grendel (Independence, Ohio/Independence) and sophomore guard Riley Thomas (Cardington, Ohio/Cardington-Lincoln) with 10 points each. Urbana's Marcus Pearl scored a game-high 18 points in defeat.
Lake Erie shot 47.3% (26-of-55) from the field and overcame a hot 56.3% (27-of-48) shooting night from Urbana. Forcing the Blue Knights into 21 turnovers was a big key to the game as well as Lake Erie's strong 23-of-27 (85.2%) shooting from the foul line.
Lake Erie got off to a strong start as Grendel scored five of the Storm's first seven points. The Green and White held at least a share of the lead for the game's first eight minutes with Urbana taking its first lead at 12-9 with 11:34 in the half. Consecutive three-point plays by Smith put the Storm back in front 21-17 at the 7:13 mark and it remained close as neither team led by more than four points in the half until a layup by Urbana's Pearl put the Blue Knights ahead 31-25 with 33 seconds to play. A pair of Austin free throws closed the first half scoring as Urbana led 31-27 at the intermission.
A Grendel three-pointer closed the gap to a point at 33-32 early in the half but the Blue Knights extended their lead to a game-high eight points on a Josh Brown three-pointer with 14:29 to play. Lake Erie methodically cut into the lead and pulled even at 50-50 on a well executed reverse layup by Thomas from sophomore Tom Parker (Cleveland, Ohio/St. Ignatius) at 7:56. Just 25 seconds later, the Storm took their first lead of the second half at 53-50 on yet another three-point play by Smith. Less than two minutes later, the Storm extended their lead to seven points on a pair of free throws from Parker. The Lake Erie would not slip below five points the rest of the way as three-point plays by Thomas and Austin helped preserve the advantage. The Storm lead reached double digits for the first time on the evening with an Austin layup with 1:39 to play and Lake Erie's sixth victory was never again in doubt.
The Storm is in action next on Saturday as they return to GLIAC play with a South Division showdown at Ohio Dominican University at 3:00 p.m.