PAINESVILLE, Ohio - The Lake Erie Storm women's basketball held off Central State's rally in the second half to come away with a 61-58 win at the Jerome T. Osborne Family Athletic & Wellness Center on Saturday (Feb. 6) afternoon.
The win was Lake Erie's 17th of the season and ninth in a row, both setting new records in the program's history. The previous marks were set in the 2007-08 season.
"(Setting the records) feels great," senior guard Renese Ames (Bedford, Ohio/Bedford) said. "We knew we had a great group of women coming into the season. We play a great basketball game when everything is going well."
Before the game, Ames was recognized as the team's lone senior, playing in her final home game in a Storm uniform. She also received a commemorative basketball, honoring her accomplishment of reaching the 1,000-point mark last Saturday against Ohio Dominican.
She matched junior forward Alyssa Wagers' (Stow, Ohio/Stow) game-high 17 points, helping the Storm (17-8) build a huge first half lead. Lake Erie scored the first 10 points of the game and led by 17 (36-19) at halftime.
Lake Erie forced 18 turnovers in the first half, while turning it over just once on the offensive end, leading to a 25-0 advantage in points off turnovers in the first 20 minutes. The Storm also led 22-2 in points in the paint.
Sophomore center Stephanie Rogers (Mentor, Ohio/Mentor) dominated - as she has all season - on the interior defense, swatting five Marauder shots. She entered the game ranked 10th in the country in blocks per game.
"I wasn't shooting well," Rogers said. "I can't really control if my shot is going to fall, but I can always control my defense."
Her biggest highlight may have come in the second half as she led a fast-break by grabbing the rim on a layup attempt. Despite missing the basket, she brought much of the crowd to its feet with a standing ovation for the effort.
The Marauders (8-14) clawed back into the game late in the second half. Lake Erie still led by as many as 22 with 9:35 left in the game, but Central State went on a 19-3 run over the next eight minutes to cut the lead to 59-53 with 1:02 to play.
Central State's Linda Ubadigbo connected on two free throws to trim the Storm lead to 59-55. The Marauders then sent Ames to the line, where she hit the pair to bring the lead back to six.
The Marauders pushed the ball down the left side on the next possession, but Ames plucked Deshundra Gober's pass out of the air and went back to the line. Ames missed the front end of the one-and-one and Chynele Stewart hit a three with 1.9 seconds left, but the Storm inbounded cleanly to seal the win.
Lake Erie struggled shooting the ball in the game, hitting just 23-of-63 (37 percent) from the field. But the Storm was able to limit its turnovers (10) and forced the Marauders to shoot just 39 percent (20-for-51).
"We feel like we can finally finish games, even if the other team goes on a run," said sophomore guard Jen Caiola (South Russell, Ohio/Chagrin Falls), who finished with nine points.
The Storm will now have another week off, returning to the floor at Ohio Dominican next Saturday (Feb. 13) at 2 p.m.