PAINESVILLE, OHIO – The game was still in doubt until the final minute but Lake Erie College's upset bid of fifth-ranked Ashland University fell short, 62-53, at the Jerome T. Osborne Family Athletic & Wellness Center in Painesville, Ohio.
The loss was the Storm's fourth straight as they close the regular season 16-10 overall and 10-9 in GLIAC play. The Eagles (25-1, 19-0 GLIAC) win was their 25th straight and secured a perfect regular season in conference play. Lake Erie enters the GLIAC tournament as the fifth-seed as it will travel to the fourth-seeded Tiffin University Wednesday for a rematch of a 62-55 Dragons home win Thursday night.
It was senior day for the Storm as they honored eight seniors Britt Busson (Wadsworth, Ohio/Wadsworth), Jen Caiola (South Russell, Ohio/Chagrin Falls), Cate Cianchetti (Stow, Ohio/Stow-Munroe Falls), Stephanie Rogers (Mentor, Ohio/Mentor), Allison Pavkov (Stow, Ohio/Stow-Munroe Falls), Liz Stephens (North Royalton, Ohio/North Royalton), Alyssa Wagers (Stow, Ohio/Stow-Munroe Falls) and Brittany Zele (Geneva, Ohio/Geneva).
Watch video of the senior day ceremony below.
Wagers led Lake Erie with her 41st career double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Also in double figures for the Storm was Cianchetti with 11 points off the bench, including three three-pointers. Ashland was led by junior forward Kari Daugherty with game-highs of 30 points and 24 rebounds.
Lake Erie never led as Ashland scored the first six points, holding the Storm scoreless on their first nine possessions. Lake Erie got on the board 5:31 into the contest on a Rogers jumper and she scored 20 seconds later to cut the deficit to 6-4. The scored was just 10-7 Ashland 13 minutes into the game when the Eagles offense warmed up. Daugherty, who finished the first half with 15 points and 18 rebounds, score the visitor's next 11 points. Ashland extended its lead to double-digits for the first time at 24-14 with 1:25 to play in the half. The teams traded free throws with the Eagles taking a 25-15 advantage to halftime. The Storm shot just four-of-27 (14.8%) from the field in the half.
In the second half, Ashland moved its lead out to 15 at 33-18 with 15:33 to play. Busson hit a pair of threes to keep the Storm in the game but Daugherty matched with two threes of her own. The Eagles lead extended to 19 with 10:33 to play at 45-26 on a Daugherty layup. A three-point play by sophomore forward Chrissy Delaney (Delaware, Ohio/Lewis Center Olentangy) started the Storm run and got some key momentum with 10:33 to play. Cianchetti hit a three-pointer to cut the Eagles lead to 45-32 and a foul away from the ball gave possession back to the Storm. That foul was Daughtery's fourth sending her back to the bench for the next four minutes.
Over that stretch, Lake Erie got within seven at 51-44. Daughtery checked back in and immediately hit a three-pointer but layups by Wagers and Rogers made the score 54-48 with 2:57 to play. Both teams came up empty on their next two possessions before Jena Stutzman hit a big jumper for Ashland with 1:13 to play. Cianchetti came down the court and buried a pull-up three to cut the gap to 56-51 at 1:04 but Ashland went six-for-six at the foul line in the final minute to secure the win.
For details of Lake Erie's GLIAC Quarterfinal matchup at Tiffin, check www.lakeeriestorm.com for updates all week.