Lakers host Lake Erie Thursday and Walsh Saturday, welcome Algoma on Monday

Photo Courtesy Kati Doty
Photo Courtesy Kati Doty
Lake Superior State Men's Basketball
 Thurs. 12/15  vs. Lake Erie College @ 7:30 p.m.
 Sat. 12/17  vs. Walsh @ 3 p.m.
 Mon. 12/19  vs. Algoma @ 5 p.m.
 Location  Cooper Gymnasium | Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.
 Video  Eversport.tv

 Audio

 ESPN 1400
 Live Stats  LSSULakers.com
 LSSU Record  4-2, 2-1 GLIAC
 LEC Record

 1-10, 1-3 GLIAC

 Walsh Record

 7-2, 2-2 GLIAC

 Algoma Record  2-7 CIS

Opening Tip

SAULT STE. MARIE- Lake Superior State men's basketball closes out the 2016 calendar year at home this week with a pair of Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference matchups against Lake Erie and Walsh, before hosting a nonconference game against cross-river rivals Algoma next Monday (Dec. 19).

The week opens at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday with the Lakers (4-2, 2-1 GLIAC) hosting the Storm (1-10, 1-3 GLIAC) and continues with Saturday's 3 p.m. meeting with the Cavaliers (7-2, 2-2 GLIAC). Monday's game against the Thunderbirds is slated for 5 p.m.

The Lakers enter the matchup winners of their last two games and in a tie with Michigan Tech for third place in the GLIAC North Division standings.

Laker Notes

Akaemji Williams leads the GLIAC and ranks third nationally in overall scoring with a 25.7 points per game. Williams is also the national leader in assists (9.7) and steals (4.17) per game.

Williams, a native of Pontiac, Mich., picked up GLIAC North Division Player of the Week honors on Monday following a 90-85 victory at Findlay last week in which he scored 32 points and tallied eight assists. The junior guard also notched his 1,000th career point in the victory.

Through six games this season Williams has scored at least 30 points, four times, and has at least eight assists in every contest.

The Lakers feature the GLIAC's highest scoring offense. At 93.7 points per game this season, LSSU ranks 10th nationally in scoring.

LSSU outside shooters continue to lead the GLIAC and rank 19th nationally with a 42.7 shooting percentage from behind the arc. The Lakers also lead GLIAC teams with a 50.5 percent mark overall from the field.

Leading the Lakers from deep is the sophomore duo of Carson Manger and Blake Marquardt. Manger is hitting on 58.1 percent of his three-point attempts, good to lead all GLIAC shooters, while Marquardt ranks fifth with a 47.7 percent clip from behind the arc.

Nationally Manger's three-point percentage ranks fourth and Marquardt is tied for 50th.

Marquardt ranks 14th among GLIAC scorers with a 15.2 points per game average, while Manger ranks 16th with 15.0 points per game.

Also contributing to the Lakers' high profile offense is a team assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.47 with 113 assists and 77 turnovers. The Lakers are tied with MTU for 16th nationally and atop the GLIAC.

Junior center Michael Nicholson is the fourth Laker starter averaging double-digit points this season with 13.0 points per game, ranking 22nd among GLIAC players. Nicholson ranks second among GLIAC players with a 70.7 field goal percentage on the season. The Clarkston, Mich., native also ranks third in rebounding with 8.2 boards per contest and ranks eighth with 1.2 blocks per game.

This Week's Matchups

Lake Erie

The Storm enter Thursday's contest having lost 4-1 overall and winners of their last three games. The 2016 South Division champions met the Lakers once last season, an 82-76 victory for the Lakers at home.

LEC is tied for 13th out of 15 GLIAC teams in averaging just 71.4 points per game. The Storm also rank 13th in field goal percentage with a 43.5 percent mark on the season.

Defensively, the Storm also rank 13th in allowing 81.7 points per game to opponents. Only the Wildcats (82.0) and the Lakers (89.0) allow more points against this season.

Senior guard Sean Howard leads LEC in scoring with 13.9 points per game, and also averages 2.5 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game. Fellow senior Nick Wells (11.3 ppg) and freshman Gabe Kynard (11.0 ppg) round out LEC scorers averaging double digits this season.

Walsh

The Cavaliers open the week at Northwood on Thursday night, after losing two of their last three games. Walsh opened the season with six-straight wins before a Dec. 3 loss at Michigan Tech and picking up their second loss in three games a week later with a 79-58 loss at home against Grand Valley State.

Leading the Cavaliers this season is the senior duo of Zac Carter and Trey Fletcher. Carter's 21.1 points per game average ranks second among GLIAC scorers, while Fletcher's 20.8 points per game ranks third and his 7.1 rebounds per contest ranks tied for ninth.

The Walsh offense is clicking at 85.0 points per game, second behind the Lakers, while the defense allows 72.9 points per game and ranks seventh among GLIAC teams.

Algoma

Canadian Interuniversity Sport members Algoma make the trek across the St. Mary's river on Monday night to renew a recently formed rivalry between the border schools. The Lakers and Thunderbirds (2-7) have met four times during the past three seasons with LSSU winning all four meetings. Last season the Lakers claimed a pair of home victories, 84-56 and 84-51, over Algoma.

This season the Thunderbirds are led by guards Jermaine Lyle (11.4 ppg) and Adam Benrabah (9.2 ppg). Nathan Riley has also turned in a solid season thus far, averaging 6.6 points and a team-leading 6.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game.

Last Week (Findlay, 90-85 W)

Last week the Lakers fought back from a 13-point deficit in the first half, claiming an eight-point lead at halftime before eventually holding on to a tight 90-85 road victory over Findlay on Saturday (Dec. 10).

Williams scored his 1,000th career point on a free throw with 6:01 remaining in the contest. Williams entered Saturday's game with 980 points as a Laker and finished with a team-high 32 points and eight assists.

Findlay's Martyce Kimbrough scored his game-leading 38th point of the night with a three pointer to cut the Lakers lead to 89-85 but Nicholson capped the victory hitting one-of-two free throws with one second remaining to seal the victory.

Nicholson collected his first double-double of the season for LSSU with 14 points and a game-high 18 rebounds. Marquardt finished with a career-high 28 points as the Lakers' second leading scorer in the contest.

A Look Ahead

The Lakers return to action on Jan. 5 at Ohio Dominican and again on Jan. 7 at Hillsdale for a pair of GLIAC games to open the 2017 calendar year. LSSU returns to Cooper Gymnasium for the first time in 2017 to face Ferris State (Jan. 12) and Grand Valley State (Jan. 14).