Just 23.1% shooting in the first half along with 14 opening half turnovers were too much for Lake Erie College women's basketball to overcome in an 84-71 loss to Ashland University in GLIAC play at the Osborne Center Arena in Painesville, Ohio.
The Storm was led by reigning GLIAC Player of the Week in junior center Stephanie Rogers (Mentor, Ohio/Mentor). Rogers was active all over the court for the Storm with 18 points, 11 rebounds, seven steals and five blocks. It was her second double-double of the season and the 11th of her career. Also in double figures for the Storm was junior guard Jen Caiola (South Russell, Ohio/Chagrin Falls) with 16 points, all in the second half, and sophomore guard Sarah Wojciechowski with 12 points. Guard Jena Stutzman had a game-high 23 for the Eagles while forward Daiva Gerbec dominated the post with 22 points and 18 rebounds.
Lake Erie led at 2-0 at 19:14 on a jumper by senior guard Brittany Zele (Geneva, Ohio/Geneva)and it was the only time the Green and White held the advantage in the contest. After a pair of Zele free throws closed Ashland's lead to 7-6 at 15:33, the Eagles went on a 14-0 run over the next four minutes to take a commanding 21-6 advantage. The Storm composed themselves with five straight points but would never get within single digits in the first half. Ashland used a 26-15 rebounding advantage in the first half to extend its lead to 20 at 45-25 with 1:05 left in the half before a pair of Wojciechowski free throws sent the Storm to half trailing 45-27.
The Storm came out of the second half inspired as they scored the first seven points to close the gap to 11 at 45-34 capped by a three-pointer by Caiola with 18:29. Following an Ashland timeout, the Eagles reestablished command, with a 6-0 spurt. Ashland led 58-39 at 14:06 when the Storm again went on a 7-0 run capped by a Caiola three-pointer at 11:08. Lake Erie was finally able to close the gap single digits at 65-57 at the 6:18 mark on Caiola's third three-pointer of the half. It was as close as they would get as six straight Eagles points opened a comfortable 71-57 at 5:05. A traditional three-point play for Zele and Caiola's fourth triple of the second half helped get the lead down to eight once again at 77-69 with 1:25 to play, but Stutzman went 6-of-6 at the line down the stretch to help seal the Ashland victory.
Lake Erie was strong at the line in the game as they made their first 15 attempts and finished 20-of-21 while Ashland was impressive at the line as well, going 24-of-28. The Eagles held a 51-28 rebounding advantage.
The Storm returns to action next Saturday, when they host Northwood (Mich.) University in the second half of a men's and women's GLIAC doubleheader with the women's tip slated for 3:00 p.m.