PAINESVILLE, OHIO -- Chelsea Lyons hit a short jumper in the paint with 15 seconds to go and visiting Northern Michigan University held it's breath as Chrissy Delaney's (Delaware, Ohio/Lewis Center Olentangy) shot at the buzzer rolled around the rim and off giving the Wildcats a 59-57 win over the Lake Erie College women's basketball team Thursday night (Feb. 16) at the Jerome T. Osborne Family Athletic & Wellness Center.
It was the sixth straight game decided by three points or less for Lake Erie (16-7, 10-6 GLIAC) and delivered a hit to the Storm's hopes of hosting a first-round GLIAC Tournament game. The game also tipped off Lake Erie's annual "Taking Breast Cancer by Storm"/GLIAC Pink Wave weekend.
Early on it appeared as though the Wildcats (11-12, 7-9 GLIAC) would walk away with the win, racing out to a 24-9 lead in the first nine minutes. But the visitors cooled off a bit later on in the half and Lake Erie crept back to within nine at halftime, 36-27.
When the second half started, it looked like it was going to be another comeback win for the Storm. A 15-6 run allowed the Storm to tie it at 42-42 on a lay-up by senior center Stephanie Rogers (Mentor, Ohio/Mentor). Later Rogers hit a pair of free throws to give Lake Erie its first lead of the game at 46-44 with 9:39 to play.
The Storm did not surrender the lead again until a three-pointer by Hillary Bowling put the Wildcats ahead 53-51. Another three by Alyssa Colla capped an 8-0 run that put Northern Michigan up five, 56-51, with 3:25 to play.
Rogers hit a pair of free throws and then, after Lyons hit one-of-two from the line, senior guard Cate Cianchetti (Stow, Ohio/Stow-Munroe Falls) hit a three to bring Lake Erie within a point with 1:16 to go.
Delaney made one of two free throws with 40 seconds left to tie the game before Lyons, with the shot clock winding down, got into the middle of the Storm defense and landed a jumper from about six feet. After a timeout, the Storm had one last chance, but Delaney's runner at the buzzer couldn't hit the mark.
The loss spoiled a solid all-around statistical night for Rogers. She led all players with 20 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks for her seventh double-double of the season. She went 10-of-13 from the line in the game. She was joined in double figures by graduate senior forward Alyssa Wagers (Stow, Ohio/Stow-Munroe Falls) with 15 points, including seven-of-eight at the charity stripe.
Bowling led three Wildcats in double figures with 15 points while Lyons added 14. Both players grabbed eight rebounds to help NMU to a 35-28 edge on the glass.
The Storm shot just 29.4 percent (15-of-51) from the field, including just two three-pointers in a season-low five attempts. Lake Erie was 25-of-31 at the foul line. The Wildcats went 16-of-39 (41%) from the floor and 21-of-24 from the line to offset 22 turnovers.
Lake Erie now faces a crucial game on Saturday afternoon, Feb. 18, when it hosts Michigan Tech University at 1 p.m. The Storm trails the Huskies by one game for fourth place in the overall Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) standings. The top four teams host opening round games Feb. 29.