Lakers survive second half push to fend off Hillsdale, 78-65

Photo Courtesy Kati Doty
Photo Courtesy Kati Doty

HILLSDALE, Mich. - Lake Superior State men's basketball fended off a second-half push by Hillsdale College to come away with a 78-65 victory on the road in the teams' final regular season matchup as Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference rivals.

The Chargers (6-8, 2-6 GLIAC), who will leave the GLIAC next season for the Great Midwest Athletic Conference, stormed back from a 44-17 deficit after the first half and chipped away at the LSSU lead, eventually drawing to within 11 points with 6:15 remaining.

The Lakers (8-3, 5-2 GLIAC) tempered the late push from the Chargers with a jumper from Akaemji Williams with six minutes remaining, followed by a layup from junior center Michael Nicholson and capped by a thunderous alley-oop dunk by Nicholson on a lob from Williams for a 6-0 run to put LSSU ahead by 17 with 3:58 remaining. Nicholson, with 10 points and four rebounds in the second half and all of Williams' nine points in the game coming in the final 20 minutes helped keep Hillsdale at bay.

Nicholson totaled game-highs in points, tying a season-high with 18, and rebounds with 12 to lead the Lakers. Sophomores Carson Manger and Blake Marquardt each totaled 14 points, while Williams finished with nine points, nine assists, and six rebounds. Senior guard Jordan Dasuqi came off the bench and scored eight points on 3-5 shooting from the field and 2-2 from behind the arc in 19 minutes of work.

LSSU opened the contest with a blistering 18-of-35 (51.4 percent) field goals and went 6-for-9 (66.7 percent) from three-point range in the first half. The Lakers struggled to find their shot in the second half, hitting 37.5 percent from the field and only making one three on seven attempts.

Hillsdale opened the game making only 5-27 (18.5 percent) from the field and 1-of-14 (7.1 percent) behind the arc in the first half.

The Lakers return home next week for a Thursday evening matchup against Ferris State at 7:30 p.m. LSSU also hosts Grand Valley State on Saturday (Jan. 14) at 3 p.m.