PAINESVILLE, OHIO – Lake Erie College (16-8, 10-7 GLIAC) played its seventh straight game decided by three points or less and gave last season's national runner-up Michigan Tech University (17-6, 12-5 GLIAC) all it could handle, but fell 69-66 in a key conference matchup at the Jerome T. Osborne Family Athletic and Wellness Center in Painesville, Ohio.
The contest was a battle for fourth place in the GLIAC with Michigan Tech securing a GLIAC Quarterfinals home game with the win. Lake Erie has already clinched a spot in the playoffs and could finish anywhere from fourth through seven in the conference.
The Storm had three in double figures led by a senior center Stephanie Rogers (Mentor, Ohio/Mentor) with 19 points, including a five-of-five effort at the foul line. Senior forward Alyssa Wagers (Stow, Ohio/Stow-Munroe Falls) added 14 points and eight rebounds while senior guard Jen Caiola (South Russell, Ohio/Chagrin Falls) added 12 points and matched a career-high with a game-high nine rebounds. The Huskies were led by the duo of guard Sam Hoyt and forward Lindsey Lindstrom with 20 points each.
The Storm scored the game's first five points on a Wagers jumper and a Caiola three on their first two possessions. Michigan Tech responded with a 9-2 spurt to take its first lead a 9-7 at 15:45 but Lake Erie came back to retake the advantage at 13-11 on a three-pointer by junior forward Sarah Wojciechowski (Randolph, Ohio/Waterloo). The Huskies responded with seven straight points to retake command and extended their lead out to 29-20 at 4:52. Trailing 31-23, Lake Erie answered with a 9-0 run started by five straight points by Rogers to take a 32-31 advantage in the final minute of the half. A layup by MTU's Kate Glodowski with six seconds to play in the half put the Huskies ahead 33-32 at the break. MTU held a 23-6 rebounds edge going into the half.
A Caiola three gave the Storm the lead to open the second half and after the teams traded baskets, Michigan Tech went on a 12-0 run to take its first double digit advantage at 15:04, 47-37. The Storm methodically chipped into that Huskies advantage, closing to within a single point at 52-51 with 10:04 to play when Rogers converted a layup from redshirt sophomore Chloe Irish (LaGrange, Ohio/Keystone), who helped spark Lake Erie off the bench in the second half. The Storm closed the gap to one three times before taking the advantage back at 57-56 at 7:17. Michigan Tech hit a three-pointer on its next possession to take a 59-57. The teams traded baskets with Lake Erie twice tying the game and MTU taking the lead for good at 63-61 on a Taylor Stippel jumper with 4:40 to play. Stippel hit another jumper with 3:09 to play but Wagers answered back to cut the deficit to two at 65-63 with 2:37 to go.
The score would stay that way until the final 10 seconds as each team came up empty on its final four possessions. The Storm had a great chance to tie with eight seconds to play when senior guard Cate Cianchetti (Stow, Ohio/Stow-Munroe Falls) eight foot jumper went long off the back iron. Lindstrom hit a huge pair of free throws to give the Huskies a two-possession lead, 67-63, with seven seconds to play and they proved huge as Cianchetti nailed a three-pointer in the final three seconds. Lake Erie was not able to foul Lindstrom until .2 seconds remained and she again hit both to seal the road victory for Michigan Tech.
The Storm stayed in the game by forcing 23 turnovers from the Huskies while committing just 10. However, they were unable to overcome 52.9% (27-of-51) shooting from Michigan Tech. The Huskies finished the contest with a 41-24 rebounding advantage.
Lake Erie will be fighting for GLIAC playoff seeding entering the final week of the season, which begins Thursday (Feb. 23) when it travels to play Tiffin University at 6:00 p.m.