MARYVILLE, Mo.- Lake Superior State men's basketball fought back from a 15-point first half deficit against the No. 3-ranked NCAA Division II team in the nation, Northwest Missouri State, on Wednesday (Nov. 23) before eventually falling 91-86.
The undefeated Bearcats (5-0) appeared destined to pull away with a lopsided victory in the first half but the Lakers (2-1) clawed their way back into the game during the second half, thanks to a 63.6 percent three-point field goal percentage in the final 20 minutes.
LSSU opened the second half with consecutive three-pointers, quickly tightening the score to 49-40. It was the first time the Lakers trailed in single digits since the score was 19-11.
Blake Marquardt's three-pointer cut the lead to 62-59, but was quickly answered on the other end with a three pointer from NMSU's Ryan Welty.
The Lakers eventually went on a 7-0 spurt to take a 66-65 lead. Northwest went right back in front on a layup by Justin Pitts with under 9 minutes left. The Lakers' second lead of the game came at 71-70, following another three-pointer by Marquardt. Once again, Northwest immediately answered with a four-point play by Zach Schneider that gave the Bearcats a 74-71 lead with 5:38 left.
Marquardt scored 19 points for the Lakers, while Schneider added 21 for the Bearcats.
A three-pointer by Akaemji Williams with 12 seconds left, eventually made it an 87-86 lead for the Bearcats. Williams finished with a game-high 34 points and picked up his second double-double on the year with 10 assists.
Northwest Missouri closed it out on the other end with a layup attempt by Welty that resulted in a flagrant foul being called on the Lakers and four free throws awarded to the Bearcats. Justin Pitts hit the first two in place of the injured Welty and Xavier Kurth iced the game with two free throws for the flagrant foul.
Pitts finished with 27 points and five assists to lead the Bearcats in both categories.
The Lakers return home next week to face Ashland at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday (Dec. 1) and Tiffin at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday (Dec. 3).