PAINESVILLE, Ohio – Saturday's Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference South Division game between Lake Erie and Findlay was comprised of 42 ties and lead changes. But Lake Erie came up on the wrong end of the game's final lead change.
In a see-saw affair that saw 130 points evenly exchanged, the Storm eventually fell to the Oilers, 79-69.
Findlay (19-4, 15-4 GLIAC) got 40 points from Greg Kahlig in winning its sixth straight game. The Oilers have won 12 of their last 13 and with Saturday's victory have pulled off a season sweep of the Green & White.
But Saturday's contest was anything but a clean sweep for a talented UF squad. Lake Erie (9-16, 6-13) exhibited a deep and balanced attack in what was a game effort in the team's final home game of the 2013-14 season.
Saturday's game in Painesville, Ohio, marked Senior Day for the Storm program. And the 2014 graduating class of Lake Erie Basketball nearly delivered a stunning upset. Seniors Tom Parker, Garrick Sims, Nate Tait, Riley Thomas and Tyler Walters combined to score 45 of the team's 69 points in a game that went down to the final minutes.
The first half was a back-and-forth exchange, with neither side extending a lead past four points until the Storm went up, 26-21, on a Garrick Sims jumper at 5:45. Lake Erie started its five seniors, and those five accounted for 24-of-LEC's-first-26 points.
Late in the half, Lake Erie effectively countered a 6-0 Findlay run, and the Storm went into halftime with a one-point lead (37-36). Nate Tait and Riley Thomas each drilled three treys in the opening half; as a team LEC went 8-of-16 from distance. UF answered that mark with eight 3-pointers of its own. The Oilers' Greg Kahlig scored15 points to lead all scorers in an opening 20-minute stanza that included no less than 17 ties and lead changes.
Turnovers dominated the early minutes of the second half, and the two GLIAC South foes continued to leapfrog one another on the Osborne Athletic Center scoreboard. Midway through the second, Lake Erie go a big boost from its bench, with Steve Walczak and Colin Barth combining to score seven unanswered point. That spurt put the Storm in front by six (57-51).
But the visiting five would battle back. Beginning just outside the six-minute mark, the Oilers held the Storm scoreless for two-and-a-half minutes. Over that span Findlay vaulted into the lead.
Riley Thomas then scored four key points on two free throws and a jumper, but when Greg Kahlig drained a 3-pointer at 1:32 UF found itself up, 71-67. Lake Erie misfired on its next three possessions and fell down by six. Findlay hit its free throws down the stretch in sealing the hard-fought win.
Kahlig scored his 40 points on an 11-of-16 performance from the field. The GLIAC's third-leading scorer went 6-of-10 from three-point-land and 12-of-13 from the foul line. He led the Oilers to a 21-of-41 (51.2 percent) performance from the floor.
Lake Erie shot just 24-of-62 (38.7 percent) from the field but went 11-of-23 (47.8 percent) from beyond the arc. LEC was a plus-4 in turnovers but only got to the free-throw line 11 times, 20 times less than did the Oilers.
Senior guard Riley Thomas led Lake Erie with 17 points. Thomas had five treys on the afternoon. Fellow seniors Nate Tait (13 points) and Garrick Sims (11 points, five rebounds) also contributed key performances for LEC.
A solid Lake Erie defense forced 17 turnovers and outscored Findlay, 21-12, on points of turnovers. The LEC bench outscored UF's, 24-6.
With Saturday's defeat, the Storm have now lost five in a row. The Green & White will look to put an end to that skid on Thursday when they visit Tiffin.
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