SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. - Lake Superior State men's basketball suffered an 84-81 loss at home against Ashland on Tuesday evening in a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Quarterfinals matchup held at Cooper Gymnasium.
The Lakers (16-10, 13-8 GLIAC) claimed a 43-42 lead at the halftime break after shooting 15-30 from the field in the first half and made five-of-10 three-point field goals. The hot shooting early on helped LSSU net a 21-10 lead with 12:41 remaining in the first half after freshman Malek Adams' three-pointer capped a 10-0 run.
Adams scored seven of his nine points off the bench during the 10-0 run that lasted just over two minutes.
The Eagles (18-9, 12-8 GLIAC) tied the game moments later, with 8:19 remaining, following a layup by Marsalis Hamilton to knot the game at 26-26. Both sides traded leads down the stretch in the first half with the Lakers claiming a 43-49 lead with 28 seconds remaining in the first half, but Torin Wetzel sank a three with nine seconds remaining to draw to within one point at the break.
Out of halftime, the Lakers built a lead as large as six points following a pair of free throws by Carson Manger with 16:12 remaining. The Eagles battled back, however, and using a 9-3 run through the middle part of the second half to claim a 67-62 lead with 9:23 remaining in regulation following a put-back slam dunk by Phil Frentsos on a missed three-pointer by Boo Osborne.
Manger responded with a three-point basket on the other end but a two-point deficit would be as close as the Lakers would come as Ashland closed out the victory down the stretch. Trailing by three with three seconds left after Frentsos made one-of-two free throws, the Lakers had one final attempt to tie the game. Beating a full court press, junior guard Akaemji Williams raced up the court and let fly with a three at the buzzer but the shot hit the left side of the rim and bounced away.
Williams finished with game-highs of 26 points and 11 assists to record the only double-double in the contest. Manger chipped in 19 points on 6-of-10 shooting from the field and a 3-for-5 mark behind the arc.
Osborne led the Eagles with 22 points and Hamilton scored 18 to help pace the Eagles starters. With 12 points off the bench, Nick Bapst helped lead the Ashland reserves to outscore LSSU 26-15 off the bench.
Ashland also scored 14 points off of 11 turnovers by the Lakers while limiting their mistakes to just eight turnovers in the game.
The victory for Ashland sends the No. 6-seed of the GLIAC Tournament to Big Rapids this weekend for the semifinals where they will meet the No. 2-seed Findlay. The Lakers await the decision of the NCAA Division II Tournament Selection Committee, with the hopes of an at-large bid.