The Lakeland men's basketball team lost an 84-75 decision to the Columbus State Cougars in the finals of the TJ Memorial Basketball Tournament. With the loss, Lakeland's record falls to 2-2. With the score tied at 16 in the first half, the Lakers went cold for almost 4 minutes as the Cougars increased their lead to 29-16. The ice was finally broken on an Allen Simms dunk with 7:30 to play in the half. Similar to the previous night, Lakeland picked up the pace, forced turnovers, and starting making their baskets. The Lakers cut the lead to 37-35 after a pair of Tyreke Johnson free throws. Unfortunately, in what became a common theme, as Lakeland got close, the Cougars would answer. This time just a shot that bounced around and then dropped at the buzzer to give Columbus State a 37-33 edge at the half.
The Cougars went on a surge to start the second half as Lakeland again went cold and committed costly turnovers. The Cougars lead was 59-45 with under 14 minutes to play. From there, Lakeland battled back several times to cut the lead to 7 or 8 with Columbus then responding and growing it back to 10-12 points. This continued throughout the rest of the game – each time a different reason why the lead would not be cut more. At times, Lakeland would miss free throws, sometimes get called for a charge (3 times), and other times simply just miss open looks. In the end, they just could not overcome the deficit.
Lakeland had very good energy for most of the game; they just had difficulty finishing the plays. The Lakers shot 59% (13-22) from the free throw line, and were 6-21 from the arc. A key factor is that they also committed 27 turnovers. However, with all of that, they still outrebounded the Cougars 32-29 and shot 55% on 2–point attempts. Tyreke Johnson led the Lakers in scoring as he poured in 28 points. Jonny Bowers pitched in with 11 points while Chris Richardson and Allen Simms each scored 9 points.
Bowe Bytes: "We continue to show tendencies of a young team. We need our leaders to step up and bring along some of the newer guys. We need to do a better job of understanding our opportunities and taking advantage of them. I liked our overall effort – we just need to continue to work hard and improve. We have a tough road stretch coming up – it should be a good test for us."
Next up: Lakeland has a tough road stretch coming up as they are away for the next 4 games. It will begin next Friday (11/15) when they travel to Genesee CC for a 7 pm start. The Lakers will then match up against the Erie CC Kats at 3 pm on Saturday (11/16). On Wednesday (11/20), Lakeland will travel to Lorain County for a 7:30 pm tip with the Commodores before visiting Hocking College on Saturday (11/23) for a 3 pm game. Lakeland will finally return home on Tuesday (11/26) when they will play host to the Saints from Mercyhurst NE at 7:30 pm. Admission is free.