TU?all smiles after weathering Storm

The ball found Mike Brown at the top of the 3-point line. He fired, and converted, pushing Tiffin University’s first half lead over Lake Erie to 10.

As the Dragons ran back up the court, Brown’s teammate, Joe Graessle, had a big grin on his face.

After three games of frustration, TU was having fun.

Of course, Graessle’s play was a big reason for the positive vibes emanating from the Dragons Thursday night at Gillmor Center. Graessle, who has been on an absolute tear in recent games, continued to dominate, scoring from all over the court and finishing with 23 points, five rebounds, seven steals, three assists and three blocks in the 78-44 win.

“Fortunately, my first shots were able to fall,” Graessle said.

But it wasn’t just Graessle’s play that allowed the Dragons to surge. Recent games have shown it can’t be.

Khaleal McCormick had an excellent game off the bench. In the first half alone, he had 10 points and seven rebounds. He finished with a double-double of 10 points and 11 rebounds. Eric Roby continued his stretch of strong play with 16 points and eight rebounds.

But the biggest game – aside from Graessle – may have belonged to Brown, who came off the bench for 15 points, a career-high. He also had four assists.

“A couple of teammates got me involved, it got my confidence going,” Brown said. “I think we did a really good job tonight of making the extra pass and keeping everyone involved.”

McCormick certainly stayed involved, being active on the glass. Of his 11 rebounds, five were offensive.

“It felt good attacking the glass,” McCormick said. “It was good team ball tonight.”

Perhaps the best news for Tiffin coach John Hill was that after really struggling on defense during a three-game losing streak, TU held Lake Erie to just 24 percent (7 of 29 shooting) in the first half as it pulled away.

“I’m always happy with a win,” Hill said after the Dragons improved to 7-12, 4-9 in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. “The guys needed it.”

Tiffin went into the break up 42-27. Then it started the second half with an easy layup by Mike Boan and a dunk by Johnathan Sutherlin to put the Dragons up 19. Over the first 15 minutes of the second half, the Storm (5-11, 2-10) managed just 11 points.

“The best offense is defense,” Graessle said. “We were able to prove that tonight.”

Lake Erie shot just 14 of 56 (25 percent) for the game. No player reached double figures in scoring, as three players – Riley Thomas, Garrick Sims and Nate Tait – tied for the team lead with seven points each.

The Dragons now turn their attention to Saturday, when they travel to Ashland to play a team the players on TU’s roster have yet to beat.

“We need to play exactly like we did tonight,” Graessle said.