PAINESVILLE, OHIO -- In her first career start, senior Cate Cianchetti (Stow, Ohio/Stow-Munroe Falls/Akron) tied her career high with 24 points, including a pair of free throws in the final 20 seconds to seal an 81-78 road win for the Lake Erie College women's basketball team at Northwood University on Saturday evening (Dec. 17) at the E.W. Bennett Sports Center in Midland, Mich.
Senior Alyssa Wagers (Stow, Ohio/Stow-Munroe Falls) scored the go-ahead basket with 46 seconds to go and then Cianchetti hit a pair of free throws with 18 seconds left to push the lead to three for the Storm (8-1, 3-1 GLIAC).
The game resembled the three-point shooting contest at the NBA All-Star weekend at times. The first five baskets of the game came from beyond the arc and the two teams combined to make 23 long-range shots in 46 attempts.
Lake Erie hit a season-high 13 three-pointers on the day. The deep shots allowed the Storm to comeback from a double-digit first half deficit and then to hold on after losing a 13-point edge of their own in the second half.
An 11-0 run midway through the period gave the Storm a 65-52 lead with 12:11 left before host Northwood (6-4, 2-3 GLIAC) battled back to tie the game at 71 with 5:23 to play.
The lead changed hands six times the rest of the way before Rogers' jumper put LEC up 79-78. Stephanie Rogers (Mentor, Ohio/Mentor) blocked Rachel Church's lay-up attempt out of bounds and then Cianchetti stole the ball following the inbounds pass and was fouled. She converted the pair to make it 81-78.
Church missed a three-pointer with 10 seconds to go and the Timberwolves were unable to get a shot off on their final possession, allowing the Storm to escape with its second road win of the year.
Northwood opened a 12-point lead early in the first half, starting the game on a 21-9 run before the Storm heated up. Senior Liz Stephens (North Royalton, Ohio/North Royalton) hit two three-pointers while classmate Britt Busson (Wadsworth, Ohio/Wadsworth) and Cianchetti each hit three in the first twenty minutes.
The Storm still trailed by seven with three minutes to go before halftime but outscored the hosts 10-0 the rest of the way, taking a 43-40 lead into the break after sophomore Chrissy Delaney's (Delaware, Ohio/Lewis Center Olentangy) three at the buzzer.
"We were down big and they couldn't miss," said head coach Bob Booher. "But our kids showed great character and battled back and fought through a lot tonight. We had a lot of things go against us throughout the game, but we kept battling and kept coming back."
With the Storm doing their damage from the outside, Northwood turned to the inside. Savannah Steadman scored 13 points down low and grabbed seven rebounds in the second half to help the home team get back into the game.
Cianchetti, who returned to the court this year after a three-year absence from the game, was starting in place of fifth-year senior Brittany Zele (Geneva, Ohio/Geneva) who suffered a broken nose and a concussion at Ashland University last week. She led all players with her 24 points and career-high seven assists.
Busson finished with 12 points, all coming on three pointers, and Rogers finished with eight points off the bench. The trio made up for the fact that the Storm's top three scorers coming into the game were held to a combined 24 points.
"It was really key for us to get some other players to step up when our regular scorers had an off night," said Booher. "Cate played a fantastic game and we really got some great play off our bench tonight."
As a team, the Storm shot 29-of-62 (46.8%) overall, but most impressively were successful on 52% of their three-pointers. Lake Erie also committed just nine turnovers.
The Timberwolves were led by Steadman, who had a double-double with 23 points and 10 rebounds, and Church who hit five three's en route to 20 points. Northwood outrebounds the Storm 41-24 and hit 10-of-21 three's, but turned the ball over 20 times.
Lake Erie is off through Christmas and returns to the court on Wednesday, Dec. 28, at Division I Cleveland State. That game tips off at 7 p.m. from the Wolstein Center in downtown Cleveland.