SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich.- Lake Superior State men's basketball hung on late to close out a 116-107 victory over Great Lakes Valley Conference and Midwest Region rivals Indianapolis on Thursday night in front of nearly 300 fans inside Bud Cooper Gymnasium for the team's home opener.
LSSU jumped out to a 54-41 first half lead, thanks in-part to a 55.6 percent shooting mark from the floor and a five-for-11(45.5 percent) mark from three. The Lakers (1-0) also put together a stifling defensive effort in the opening 20 minutes, creating 12 turnovers on seven steals and limiting the Greyhounds to a two-for-12 effort from behind the arc.
Lakers head coach Steve Hettinga, opening his 10th season as the Lakers' all-time winningest coach with his 163rd career victory, employed a guard-heavy lineup to stretch the floor and get out in transition on UIndy. The small lineup thrived for LSSU, totaling 32 fast break points and creating 30 points off of the Greyhounds' 20 total turnovers.
Junior guard Akaemji Williams dazzled the home crowd with impressive plays around the rim and setting up his teammates. Williams matched his career-high with 36 points and captured a double-double with 11 assists, while also leading the team with seven rebounds despite being the smallest player on the floor. The Pontiac native also tallied six steals to lead the LSSU defense and had a key block on UIndy's Eric Davidson with less than two minutes to play and the Lakers clinging to a six-point lead.
The Lakers led by as much as 27 points early in the second half after opening with a 13-0 run. The Greyhounds chipped away at the LSSU lead with runs of 11-5 and 19-2 while hitting 10-of-19 (52.6 percent) shots from behind the arc in the second half.
The 19-2 run took late in the second half cut the Lakers' lead to just 97-93 with 4:13 remaining. Four points would be as close as the 'Hounds would get as the Lakers fended off a constant full-court press and finished at the line in crunch time.
Sophomores Carson Manger and Blake Marquardt each chipped in 15 points, while senior guard Jordan Dasuqi was the fourth Laker to reach double figures with 11 points. Centers Michael Nicholson and Michael Smutny each added nine points, as did junior guard Josh Goldschmidt, and freshmen Ke'Montrece Collins and Malek Adams each poured in six points in reserve duty.
Leading UIndy's offensive output was Davidson with 35 of the Greyhounds' 60 bench points in 36 minutes of reserve duty. Davidson shot 11-for-16 from the floor, was three-for-seven from behind the arc and made all ten free throws he attempted.
Jesse Kempson also finished with 28 points, seven rebounds, and four blocks to lead the UIndy starting five.
LSSU continues non-conference action next weekend with games at Missouri Western State on Monday (Nov. 21) and at Northwest Missouri State on Wednesday (Nov. 23). The Lakers return home Dec. 1, to open Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play against Ashland at 7:30 p.m.