PAINESVILLE, OHIO – Lake Erie College (7-6, 2-4 GLIAC) gave GLIAC South frontrunner the University of Findlay (12-3, 6-2 GLIAC) all it could handle but ultimately fell short in an overtime thriller at the Jerome T. Osborne Family Athletic & Wellness Center, 67-64.
Lake Erie was led by a career night from sophomore guard Nate Tait (South Euclid, Ohio/Brush/Alderson-Broaddus). Tait scored a career-high 28 points on nine-of-17 shooting going eight-of-nine from the line including the pair with 26 seconds left in regulation which sent the game to overtime. He also added a career-high five steals.
Also in double figures for the Storm was sophomore guard Riley Thomas (Cardington, Ohio/Cardington-Lincoln) with 13 points. It was a balanced scoring effort from Findlay, led by forward Brad Piehl with 13 points.
A 17-2 advantage in points off turnovers is what kept Lake Erie in the game as the Storm forced 21 turnovers. However, Lake shot just 23-of-59 (39.0%) from the field and was outrebounded 40-27.
It was an extremely tight first half as neither team held more than a four-point advantage. Findlay's Mark Frilling opened the scoring with a layup as the Oilers held at a share of the lead for the game's first eight minutes. The Storm took their first lead at 11:01 on a three-pointer from redshirt freshman Jamil Dudley (Massillon, Ohio/Massillon), going ahead 13-12. Lake Erie then held at least a share of the lead for the next 5:30 as Findlay went back on top 21-19 on a Greg Kahlig fast break layup at 5:31. Tenacious defense helped the Storm overcome an over seven minute stretch without scoring a point and when Tait's buzzer-beating jumper went down, the score was knotted 23-23 at halftime.
Lake Erie opened a brief lead early in the second half, 26-25, after a Thomas three, but the Oilers went on a run to open the biggest lead of the night for either team, 40-31, with 13:55 to play. The Green and White chipped away at that deficit and eventually tied the score at 50-50 after a Dudley breakaway dunk with 4:10 left. Lake Erie went ahead moments later on a pair of free throws by Thomas but Piehl tied the score at 54-54 with 2:30 to go. Jack Smith put Findlay ahead with a jumper with 1:17 to play but Thomas answered right back with his own make to again tie the score with 57 seconds remaining. Guard Kyle Caiola came right down to put the Oilers ahead once more with a layup but Tait converted two foul shots with 26 seconds to play to tie the game for the eighth time at 58-58. Findlay had two chances to win the game in regulation but a Caiola three and a Smith put back with both off the mark.
In overtime, Caiola scored the first four points but two foul shots from Thomas and a Tait layup tied the game at 62-62 with 2:17 to play. Findlay finally went ahead for good with a pair of foul shots by Jack Smith to lead 64-62 at 1:19. After a Lake Erie miss, Smith split a pair of attempts and Tait came down for a layup to cut the deficit to 65-64 with 23 seconds to go. Kahlig made two clutch free throws with 13 seconds to go and then corralled a Thomas miss on a three-point attempt to tie the game in the final seconds. Kahlig was fouled and missed both attempt but Lake Erie only had time for a full court heave which fell short.
The Storm return to action Saturday as they face Tiffin University in a home contest at 3:00 p.m.