HILLSDALE, MICH. – Erasing a five-point deficit in the final 40 seconds, the Lake Erie College women's basketball team pulled out a thrilling 66-64 victory on the road Wednesday night (Feb. 1) at Hillsdale College in the final game of a three-game road swing in the last six days.
Lake Erie (14-5, 8-4 GLIAC), which trailed by as many as 15 in the second half, was behind 64-59 with 40 seconds to play. Senior center Stephanie Rogers (Mentor, Ohio/Mentor) made a lay-up with 29 seconds to go and after reigning Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) South Division Player of the Week Lea Jones missed the front end of a one-and-one, classmate Britt Busson (Wadsworth, Ohio/Wadsworth) hit a three-pointer with 17 seconds to go to pull even at 64-64.
A turnover by Hillsdale (10-10, 6-7 GLIAC) gave the Storm the ball back and senior forward Jen Caiola (South Russell, Ohio/Chagrin Falls) was fouled and hit both free throws to give Lake Erie since midway in the first half.
The Chargers had a final shot to tie the game, but Jones' lay-up attempt was blocked by Rogers and Caiola corralled the loose ball as time expired.
The ending allowed the contest to come full circle for Lake Erie. The Storm hit five three-pointers in the opening minutes and led 23-15 with 10:39 left in the first half. But the well dried up for the visitors as the Storm missed their next seven field goal attempts and found themselves down six, 39-33 at halftime.
The Chargers then opened the second half on an 11-2 run to take a 50-35 lead with 14 minutes to go. That's when the Storm slowly began chipping away at the lead, doing most of their damage at the free throw line. Lake Erie went 12-of-14 at the stripe in the second half and held Hillsdale without a basket for over four minutes down the stretch to get back into the game.
Rogers once again stuffed the stat sheet, leading the Storm with 15 points, including a nine-of-10 performance from the foul line. She also pulled down eight rebounds, blocked four shots, handed out three assists and picked up two steals.
Graduate senior Alyssa Wagers (Stow, Ohio/Stow-Munroe Falls) recorded her sixth double-double of the season, scoring 12 points and grabbing a game-high 10 rebounds. Behind the duo of Wagers and Rogers, the Storm had a 41-36 advantage on the glass – the first time in eight games Lake Erie held the rebounding advantage.
Caiola added 13 points, scoring 11 of them in the first half, while Busson chipped in with 10. Both players, along with senior guard Cate Cianchetti (Stow, Ohio/Stow-Munroe Falls) hit three three-pointers in the game.
The Storm finished 19-of-22 (86.4%) from the foul line, making up for a 35.2% (19-of-54) from the field. Lake Erie also committed 20 turnovers in the contest, five more than they forced.
Hillsdale, which had its three-game winning streak snapped, had three players score in double figures, led by Chelsea Harrison's game-high 16. Katie Bildner added 13 and Jones finished with 10 points and six assists.
The win clinched a winning season for Lake Erie for just the fourth time in school history. The 14 wins are the third most in program history. Lake Erie went 2-1 in the three games away from home in the last week.
The Storm, which has now won four-of-five, returns home on Saturday, Feb. 4, to host Ohio Dominican University at 1 p.m.