Offensive rebounding burns TU against Lake Erie

A Lake Erie player would miss a shot, or miss a free throw.

For Tiffin University, that was good.

Another Lake Erie player would grab the rebound.

That wasn’t.

It happened 22 times Thursday night, as the Storm fought back from a 10-point second half deficit to edge the Dragons, 72-69.

Tiffin’s Kaylee Patton – who led her team with 13 points – had a tying 3-point attempt rattle around then out of the basket just before the final buzzer. Katie Miller then made a would-be 3, but it was after time expired.

It’s possible Tiffin could have won the game going away had it done a better job up front. The Dragons were out-rebounded 44-38, but it was the amount of second and third chances they gave the Storm that sunk them.

Lake Erie got two key offensive boards off free throws in the final minute. With 37 seconds left and the Storm leading 66-63, Kaeding Skelton made a free throw, then missed on the second. Lake Erie’s Daija Jones came around the left side and snared the ball. She was fouled and made both free throws.

After Patton made a 3 to get Tiffin back within 69-66, Sami Narducci was fouled with 22 seconds left.

Narducci missed both free throws. But there was Jones, a 5-foot-7 freshman, for another offensive board.

“At the end of the game, we missed free throws but we got some key offensive rebounds,” Lake Erie coach Bob Booher said. “That was critical.”

For Tiffin coach Pam Oswald, it was frustrating.

Especially the last 10 minutes of regulation.

“Everything we had done so well, it’s like we lost our edge,” Oswald said. “We had an edge, we felt confident with it. Defensively, I thought for the first time we were getting after it, we were working. Then we just lost that.”

Tiffin committed 24 turnovers in the loss. Twice in the final minutes, the Dragons had the ball down three and threw the ball away.

“Turnovers, especially within the last week and half has hampered us majorly,” Oswald said. “We’ve been 20-plus turnovers the last three or four games.”

While Tiffin could look at rebounding and turnovers as derailing a chance at a win, Booher and his team had their own problem:

Free throws.

The Storm went to the line 41 times Thursday night, but struggled to make slightly more than half (21) of them. TU went 22 for 28 from the line.

“The game would have been easier if we had made free throws and bunnies,” Booher said. “But you know what? A win is a win.”

Lake Erie improved to 5-15 in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, and 10-16 overall. It was led by four players who scored in double figures. Jones tied for the team scoring lead with Narducci, who had 13 points. Jones finished with seven boards, four offensive.

Tiffin (7-16, 4-15) got 11 points each from Jordan Fraley and Jillian Adams. Adams added 10 rebounds.

To Oswald, the game came down to a simple thing.

“With us and this team, it comes down to who wants it just a little bit more,” she said.