PAINESVILLE, OHIO – Lake Erie College senior guard Brandon Smith (Bedford, Ohio/Bedford/Cuyahoga Community College) matched his career-high with 16 points and senior forward Matt Grendel (Independence, Ohio/Independence) scored a season-high 12 points as the Storm upset GLIAC-playoff bound Ashland University, 84-76, at the Jerome T. Osborne Family Athletic and Wellness Center in Painesville, Ohio.
The win closes Lake Erie's season at 10-16 overall and 5-14 in GLIAC play. The Eagles fell to 15-11 overall and 10-9 in the GLIAC.
Before the game the Storm honored their two seniors – Smith and Grendel - playing their final games in a Lake Erie Uniform.
Watch video of the senior day ceremony below.
Smith shared top scoring honors for Lake Erie with sophomore center Rich Austin (Cleveland, Ohio/St. Ignatius) who had 16 points and a game-high seven rebounds. The Storm had five in double figures as Smith, Grendel and Austin were joined by sophomore guard Riley Thomas (Cardington, Ohio/Cardington-Lincoln) with 14 points and a career-high six rebounds and sophomore guard Nate Tait (South Euclid, Ohio/Brush/Alderson-Broaddus) with 13 points off the bench. Ashland was led by junior Evan Yates with game-highs of 23 points and 13 rebounds.
Lake Erie scored the game's first seven points on a Smith three and a pair of Austin layups. Ashland closed within two at 9-7 but the Green and White would maintain that lead for the game's first 18 minutes. Lake Erie would push the lead out to seven on two other occasions in the half, after a Grendel three-pointer at 6:15 and following a pair of Smith free throws at 5:04. The Eagles tied the game at 36-36 with 1:14 to play in the half and took their first lead on a Will Evans three-pointer with 35 seconds to go in the period. A pair of Thomas free throws knotted the score at 39-39 going to intermission.
An Austin layup put the Storm ahead to open the second half but Ashland opened up a four-point lead at 47-43 with 15:12 to play after another Evans three. Lake Erie regained the advantage at 48-47 with 12:33 to play on a jumper by sophomore guard Tom Parker (Cleveland, Ohio/St. Ignatius) in the first of five lead changes in a little over three minutes of game action.
Tait put Lake Erie ahead with a layup with 9:19 to play and followed it up with a three-pointer moments later to make the score 57-53. The Storm would keep that advantage for good as a Thomas three-point play made the score 65-57 as 6:08 remained. A Tait three-pointer with 2:44 to play put Lake Erie up by 11 and the lead would get up to as much as 13 on a Thomas jumper to make the score 74-61 with 1:57 to go. Ashland never gave up, making three three-pointers in the final 1:07 to get within seven on two occasions but Lake Erie went 8-of-10 at the line in the final two minutes to seal the win.
The victory was the 99th career victory for Head Coach Cliff Hunt, who will open next season just one triumph shy of the 100-win plateau.