ASHLAND, Ohio – When putting on an event, one of the primary goals is to give people something to take away from their experience. Senior forward Justin Garris (Ledgewood, N.J./NJIT) did just that on Saturday (Feb. 26) afternoon knocking down a three from the corner with 5.5 seconds to go, to give the Eagles a 64-63 victory over Lake Erie.
Two free throws from LEC guard Alex Davis gave the Storm a 63-61 advantage with 15 seconds remaining to set up the thrilling finish. On the ensuing possession, sophomore guard David Harris (Cincinnati, Ohio/Florida) came off a ball screen and was able to find an open Garris right in front of the AU bench.
"Hopefully that'll be a shot that people remember, that he'll remember, that he can be proud of, and that he can be proud of his time here at Ashland," AU head coach John Ellenwood said of the final bucket.
Broken play or not, Garris' shot wrapped up the Eagles' first .500 or better season since the 2006-07 campaign.
"I wasn't really thinking about it, I just let it go," Garris said. He finished with 10 points in the game, but none bigger than the final three of his career.
Senior Blake Saunders (Hinsdale, Ill./Sonoma State) continued his knack for making something happen on the defensive end of the court, blocking Ethan Bradshaw's last second three-point try before the final horn sounded.
"As my career progressed I realized defense was going to be my niche," Saunders said. "It's fun getting after it, bringing energy, and taking pride in not allowing your man to score".
Senior forward Kale Richardson (Carroll, Ohio/Bloom-Carroll) finished 6-of-12 from the floor, ending his career with a game-high 16 points. The double figure effort was the 22nd of the season for Richardson, and the 89th of his career.
Sophomore Evan Yates (Cincinnati, Ohio/Walnut Hills) added 15 points, and led the Eagles with nine rebounds.
"It's always important to get either Kale or Evan going early, because it establishes our inside game," Ellenwood said. "If those guys get going, it gives our guards confidence to penetrate".
A pair of threes from senior guard Ryan Janer (Bay City, Mich./University of Detroit) sparked a 17-4 AU lead in the first 7:31 of the contest. Janer finished with a season-high eight points in the final game of his collegiate career. The Storm answered back with a 19-6 run of its own to tie the game 23-23, and the teams went into the break tied 32-32.
The second half saw five lead changes, and at most a five-point margin when the Storm took a 57-52 lead with 6:13 to go.
Storm guards Ethan Bradshaw and Riley Thomas each matched Richardson's game-high 16 points in the contest.
The Eagles (13-13, 7-12 GLIAC) turned the ball over 19 times, surrendering 21 points off those turnovers. The Storm (7-19, 3-16 GLIAC) turned the ball over just 13 times, but the Eagles held LEC to 43.6 percent from the field, including a 3-18 mark from behind the arc.
Richardson left the court for the final time with his fellow seniors. He never missed a game in his career; starting and playing in all 108 games. Richardson ends his career fourth on AU's all-time points list with 1,668, and second in rebounds with 744.