By Patrick Gordon/Lakeland Sports Information
North East, Penn.---Quamir White tipped-in a missed jumper with less than a second remaining in regulation to break a 98-98 tie and send the nationally-ranked Lakeland men's basketball team home with their first loss of the season on Tuesday night.
In a game peppered with fouls and free throws, White's tip-in proved to be the difference. Lakeland entered the game as the Ohio Community College Athletic Conference's (OCCAC) lone unbeaten team but drops to 6-1 overall after the loss.
The high scoring affair came as no surprise, as two of the nation's top scoring offenses went head-to-head. Mercyhurst North East (6-1) was ranked third in the nation, averaging just over 110 points per game while Lakeland was sixth at 103 points per game. The two sides combined to shoot 75 free throws, with the Saints holding a sizeable 49-26 advantage from the charity stripe.
Nearly half of Mercyhurst North East's points (41) came from the free throw line, where it shot 83% on the night.
Rasheed Howard (Elizabeth, N.J.) exploded for a career-high 32 points on 13-of-21 shooting for the Lakers. The freshman forward added four rebounds and a pair of steals in the setback. Classmate Kenneth Evans (Cleveland, Ohio / Collinwood) was seven for nine from the field en route to 17 points off the bench while pulling down a team-high six rebounds. Sophomores Michael Solivan (Painesville, Ohio / Harvey) and Marcus Fleming (Linden, N.J.) added 15 and 12 points, respectively.
Freshman forward Maurion Johnson (East Cleveland, Ohio / Shaw) sank a pair of free throws with four seconds remaining to pull the Lakers even, forcing the hosts to go the length of the court for the game-winning basket. White was in the right place at the right time, collecting Marquel Hilliard's miss and beating the buzzer with a well-timed put back.
The loss snaps the Lakers' four-game win streak over the Saints dating back to 2006. Lakeland visits Youngwood, Pennsylvania on Saturday at 2 p.m. before returning home to host Genesee on Tuesday (Nov. 26) at 7:30 p.m.