MARQUETTE, MICH. – Trailing by as many as 20 points in the second half, the Lake Erie College women's basketball team made a furious comeback attempt in the final minutes to close within three but host Northern Michigan University held on for a 68-63 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) victory Saturday afternoon (Jan. 5).
Senior forward Ashar Harris (Columbus, Ohio/Africentric/Morehead State) scored a game-high 25 points, including 18 in the second half, and freshman Kaeding Skelton (Grand Haven, Mich./Grand Haven) added a career-high 17 points but it wasn't enough to prevent the Storm (2-8, 0-7 GLIAC) from suffering a seventh straight defeat.
The Wildcats (8-5, 5-4 GLIAC) hit five three-pointers and shot 56.5 percent in the first half while building a 38-22 lead. Northern Michigan led 42-22 with 19:17 to go before a 12-0 Lake Erie run cut the lead to eight with just under 14 minutes to play.
The lead was still 10 with 5:24 remaining before Lake Erie chipped away at the deficit to get within three on a pair of free throws by Harris with 25 seconds to go. Lauren Gruber hit a pair of free throws to put the Wildcats up five but Harris answered with a lay-up to again make it a three-point game with eight seconds left.
A Lake Erie foul sent Gruber back to the line where she hit two more free throws with seven seconds left on the clock to seal the victory for Northern Michigan.
Nea Makela led the Wildcats with 15 points while Gruber finished with 12. Northern Michigan shot 51.3% from the field in the game and outrebounded the Storm 30-15.
The Storm committed just 10 turnovers in the game and forced 24 NMU giveaways, but Lake Erie was just 14-of-24 from the foul line compared to 22-of-25 for the Wildcats. After shooting just 35% in the first half, the Storm rebounded to finish at 46.79% overall. Skelton (7-of-8) and Harris (10-of-17) combined to go 17-of-25 (68%) from the floor.
The Storm continues its four-game road trip to open the new year next weekend, starting Thursday night (Jan. 10) at Malone University.