Shooting woes plague Lakers in 81-74 loss against Saginaw Valley

Photo Courtesy by Sam Downs
Photo Courtesy by Sam Downs
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SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. - Poor shooting plagued Lake Superior State in Thursday evening's 81-74 loss to Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference rivals Saginaw Valley State, saddling the Lakers with their second consecutive loss and just the third loss for the team at home this season.

The Lakers (14-9, 11-9 GLIAC) opened the game by hitting each of their first three attempts from the field and built a 7-0 lead before Mike Wells got SVSU on the board with a three-point field goal for their first points, 2:29 into the first half.

A 6-0 run by the Cardinals (16-10, 9-10 GLIAC), beginning just under 14 minutes left to play in the first half, put SVSU ahead 15-11 with 12:01 remaining. LSSU answered back with a layup from junior guard Akaemji Williams while drawing a foul and another layup by Williams two possessions later to take a 16-15 lead with 10:13 remaining.

The one-point lead would be the final time the Lakers led in the game as SVSU went on a 24-11 run to close the half.

LSSU finished with an 11-for-31 mark from the field (35.5 percent) in the first half and hit just 1-of-13 attempts behind the arc. The shooting woes, combined with the Cardinals hitting on 53.8 percent from the field in the opening 20 minutes, allowed the visitors to build a 39-27 lead at halftime.

The teams traded baskets to open the second half before junior center Michael Nicholson cut the deficit to 11 points with a layup, assisted by senior guard Jordan Dasuqi, with 17:18 remaining. The Lakers then went quiet for the next three minutes as the Cardinals went on a 9-0 run to lead 53-33 with 14:25 remaining in the game.

Freshman Ke'Montrece Collins finally ended the LSSU drought with a three-pointer with 13:33 remaining, but the Cardinals responded with a jumper from Devin Dixon on the next possession to retain a 19-point lead.

With 9:39 remaining, Williams hit one-of-two free throw attempts to cut the deficit to 58-44 in favor of the Cardinals. Williams then scored the next eight points for the Lakers in a 9-2 run to cut the Cardinals lead to just eight points with 7:55 remaining.

The Cardinals persisted, however, and never allowed the Lakers to get closer than a seven-point deficit in finishing off the victory.

Williams led all scorers with a game-high 32 points on 11-of-21 shooting from the field and tied for a game-high five assists. The All-GLIAC Defensive Team standout also racked up a game-high four steals.

Nicholson also turned in a solid effort with 19 points to round out the LSSU players reaching double digits in scoring and collected a double-double with a game-high 12 rebounds (four offensive). The native of Clarkston, Mich., also protected the paint with a season-high six blocks, tying for his career high.

SVSU guard Garrett Hall led the Cardinals off the bench with 25 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the field and a 5-for-7 mark behind the arc. Hall's performance helped the SVSU bench outscore the LSSU reserves, 34-5.

Three SVSU starters also turned in double-digit outings in scoring, led by Malik Garner with 18 points.  Senior C.J. Turnage turned in a double-double with 14 points and a team-high 10 rebounds, while Wells rounded out the Cardinals starters with 11 points and a team-high five assists.

LSSU finished the game with a 40.3 percent mark from the field and mustered just a 6-for-26 clip behind the arc (23.1 percent). SVSU countered with a 26-50 mark from the field (52.0 percent) and went 9-for-18 from three-point range.

On Saturday the Lakers host their final home game of the regular season with a 3 p.m. tip-off against Wayne State. Following the women's contest at 1 p.m., the men's and women's teams will honor their seniors with a special Senior Day ceremony prior to the men's game.