By Patrick Gordon/Lakeland Sports Information
Kirtland, OH---Sophomore Richard Smith denied five shots, breaking a 21-year old school record in the process, as the No. 11 Lakeland men's basketball team held off a late charge from visiting Columbus State to pick up a 79-72 victory on Wednesday night.
The Lakers (18-4, 7-0 OCCAC) have won 11 straight, tying last season's record for consecutive wins under 10th year head coach Terry Bowe.
The second year forward came into the game as the nation's second leading shot blocker, averaging 4.5 per game. After recording 81 blocks as a freshman, Smith has already registered 86 as a sophomore with five games still remaining in the regular season.
His 167 blocks surpass Steve Hanek's mark of 166 set from 1990-92. Smith is also in range of Ray Chambers' single season record of 94 blocks, which was set during the 2010-11 season.
The nationally-ranked Lakers looked to be well on their way to a victory, taking a 40-31 lead into the half and extending the advantage to 21 points (68-47) with just over ten minutes to play in regulation.
Columbus State responded with a 24-8 run over the ensuing nine minutes, pulling within five points with 90 seconds to go on a Jorian Hudson jumper. Hudson scored 14 of his team-high 21 points in the second half.
Martell Medley connected on three of four attempts from the charity stripe down the stretch to help ensure Lakeland would remain unbeaten in 2013. The sophomore guard finished with 16 points, five assists, and five rebounds in the victory.
Charles Oliver paced Lakeland with 17 points while Chaz Rollins (14) and Deran Banton (10) also reached double figures. Smith finished with a game-high 10 rebounds to go along with nine points.
Lakeland will shift its focus to two of the conference's top teams in the coming week. LCC travels to third-place Cincinnati State on Saturday (Feb. 9) at 3:00 p.m. before hosting second-place Owens on Wednesday (Feb. 13) at 7:30 p.m.
- Richard Smith is on the cusp of becoming the greatest shot blocker in the 43-year history of Lakeland basketball. Already the record holder for most blocks in a single game (15) and a career (167), the sophomore forward needs just eight more to set the single season mark with 95.
- By sweeping the regular-season series, Lakeland has now recorded three straight wins over Columbus including last year's District 10 semifinal victory.