West Michigan trailed by only four points, 93-89, with three minutes to play. But missed shots and costly turnovers opened the door for Chicago to run away with the win.
The Lake Hawks overcame a 58-44 halftime deficit with a 1-2-2 full court press defense, along with the play of Xavier Fletcher and Marquis Brewer. Fletcher scored 10 of his 21 points in the third quarter while Brewer scored eight of his 12 points in the stanza.
The Lake Hawks trailed 78-74 to start the fourth quarter and took an early lead in the final frame. But Chicago ended up with a 29-20 advantage in the fourth to seal the victory.
West Michigan finished the season with a 10-11 record.
“Our guys are frustrated and disappointed in the loss,” said Lake Hawks Coach Ron Jenkins. “But there are no individuals to blame, because we all play the part and we have to grow from that.”
Leading the Lake Hawks was Deonte Hudson with 24 points, 15 rebounds and five steals. Fletcher added 11 rebounds, five assists and five steals. Terry Walker Jr. totaled 10 points, 10 rebounds and six assists while Otis Smith had 10 points and nine rebounds.
“From a coaching standpoint, when you know someone has to win and someone has to lose, I was just proud with the season these guys put up,” said Jenkins. “I was proud of the effort, but I was disappointed that we ran out of energy the way we did down the stretch.”