SAULT STE. MARIE - Cold shooting in the second half doomed Lake Superior State men's basketball in their Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference home opener, 95-87, against Ashland on Thursday night.
The Lakers (2-2, 0-1 GLIAC) made just 18-of-42 (42.9 percent) shots from the field in the second half and struggled from range, hitting just 4-of-19 (21.1 percent)three-point attempts. Conversely, the Eagles found their stride in the second half and pulled away late on the strength of 63.3 percent field goal shooting and a 6-of-10 mark from behind the arc.
Junior guard Akaemji Williams led all scorers with 30 points and totaled a game-high eight assists. Williams has dished out at least eight assists in each of the Lakers' first four games and has totaled 30 points in three-of-four.
LSSU opened the second half leading 40-39 and picked up a 46-42 lead a minute and a half into play. The largest lead of the game for the Lakers came moments later, following a layup by Williams to put the home side ahead 56-58 with 15:19 remaining.
The Eagles (5-1, 1-0 GLIAC) responded with three consecutive layups by Adrian Cook to quickly cut the lead to 56-54, less than two minutes later. Cook finished with 23 points on 10-of-15 shooting from the floor and added four rebounds, four assists and four steals.
28 seconds later, Marsalis Hamilton capped Ashland's eight-to-nothing run, tying the game with the fourth straight layup by an Eagles player.
Phil Frentsos' three-pointer with 11:28 remaining in the second half began a 13-to-0 run for the Eagles, and a stretch of three scoreless minutes for the Lakers.
A layup by Mike Nicholson with 4:27 remaining cut the Ashland lead to 76-71, but that was the closest the Lakers would come as the Eagles were able to close the game out by hitting four of five shots from the field and a 10-for-12 mark at the line in the final four minutes.
Sophomore Carson Manger finished with 16 points after netting 11 in the first half. Nicholson finished with 15 points, seven rebounds and three blocked shots.
Ben Harraway led the Eagles with 27 points on 9-of-16 shooting from the field, including 4-of-5 shots from behind the arc.
The Lakers cap the weekend at home on Saturday with a 3 p.m. game against Tiffin from Bud Cooper Gymnasium. On Saturday the LSSU men's and women's basketball teams will host a toy drive and encourage fans to bring new or gently used toys to be donated to local children in need during the holidays.