By Jeremy Arzuaga
Southwestern Illinois freshman guard Lamarius Lillard became a force in the second half – scoring 18 points and igniting two scoring runs to help defeat Lake Land, 75-66, at the field house.
The Lakers have now lost eight of their last 10 games.
Two 8-0 runs led by Lillard’s second-half dominance in the paint proved to be too much for Lakeland, which faced defensive and rebounding issues all game
The game began with many missed shots, turnovers on both ends, five lead changes and six ties. By halftime, Lake Land trailed by only a point.
“Our biggest thing was our offensive rebounding was awful, but that’s been our Achilles heel all year,” Lake Land coach Brandon Colvin said. “Rebounding has hurt us. Turnovers have hurt us. Both of them were bad in the first half. I think we had seven turnovers and we gave up 10 offensive rebounds, and that’s what I told the guys had to get fixed for us to have a chance.”
The Lakers (5-13) had no answer for Blue Storm sophomore guard Kevin Caldwell in the first half when he scored 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting while grabbing three boards, dishing three assists and adding to Lakeland’s turnover problems with a steal of his own.
Lake Land’s sophomore guard Adam Price kept the Lakers close despite Caldwell’s excellent first half. Price led the way in the first half with eight points, two rebounds, two assists and one steal, sinking two key 3-pointer at the end of the half to get them trailing by only one entering halftime.
SWIC widened its lead through most of the second half.
The Lakers made a run in the final minutes, scoring eight straight points to move within four points with 50 seconds remaining. But SWIC was able to make a defensive stop and hit free throws down the stretch.
Colvin praised his team’s resilience amid a tough season: “Rebounding got us, we missed three to four at the rim. But these guys have battled all year and it’s just the rebounding and finishing plays that has killed us.”
A bright spot for Lakeland remained the consistent play of Price, who finished with a team-high 15 points and three steals.
Price credited his teammates for his reliable performance tonight.
“My teammates put me in good positions to score, great ball movement, and I just went from there,” Price said. “We got to work on keeping our energy at a high level and we got to work on our defensive rebounding, we always let the other team get a lot of offensive rebounds and that’s our downfall.”
Lake Land next travels to play Lincoln Trail College at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
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