EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - Playing their first game in nine days, the Kentucky Wesleyan College basketball team fell to Lake Erie College on Saturday afternoon. The Panthers, playing the Storm for the second consecutive contest, were unable to complete the season sweep as Lake Erie was lifted to 71-62 victory with a second half surge. Zach Hopewell finished with a career-high 23 points.
Like the previous match-up the Panthers (7-12, 6-6 GMAC) were able to convert three-point attempts. From the start Wesleyan saw two open shots from the perimeter miss, but two offensive rebounds from Wyatt Battaile gave Zach Hopewell another shot. This time Hopewell converted from distance and the Panthers were settled into the pace of the game.
The Storm (13-9, 7-5 GMAC) wanted to operate offensively with intense speed, but the Panthers would not fall into the trap. Throughout the first half Wesleyan was meticulous in their offensive sets, forcing the Storm to play defense deep into the shot clock. The strategy forced LEC out of rhythm as the Panthers continued to find open shots.
Jo Griffin’s lay-up midway through the opening period gave the Panthers their biggest lead of the frame, 19-13. An 8-0 run by the Storm followed as they took advantage of the Wesleyan dry spell. Lake Erie held a 28-23 lead with four minutes left in the half, but five straight points from Battaile to end the half gave the Panthers a 31-30 lead. A steal from Nathan Boyle under the LEC basket with five seconds left in the frame allowed Battaile to converted from just inside half court at the buzzer.
Hopewell gave the Panthers a 34-33 lead two minutes into the second half, but the Storm outscored Wesleyan 11-2 over the next four minutes. The pace began to speed-up again and the Storm took advantage. With the help of a 11-0 run LEC extended its lead into double digits, 58-42.
The Storm then began to slow the game down, but Hopewell’s three-point bucket with three minutes left cut the deficit to 65-58. However, that would be the closest the Panthers would get the rest of the way.
Ten of the Panthers 24 field goals on the day came from beyond the arc. Hopewell hit four three-point baskets en route to a career-high 23 points. Adam Goetz added 16 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Battaile chipped-in 12 points and recorded eight boards.
The Panthers return home on Thursday for a match-up against Findlay. Tip-off at the historic Sportscenter is scheduled for 7:45 PM.