It was a first half the Tiffin University Dragons probably want to forget.
Winning the game certainly will make that easier. So will clinching a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament home game.
After a dreadful first 20 minutes of offense in which TU's Mandy Jaeb, Jennifer Johnston and Karli Mast combined for two points, Tiffin came alive after the break. Paced by a strong rebounding effort from Jessica Harris (14 boards) and Amanda Baute (12 rebounds), Jaeb and Harris each got going, and Mast drained a key 3-pointer late as the Dragons held off the Storm, 62-55.
"We were playing nervous; at halftime we took a breather, relaxed," Jaeb said.
With the victory, TU accomplished a pair of goals: It set a program mark for wins (19) and clinched a first-round home game in next week's GLIAC Tournament.
Tiffin (19-6, 13-5 GLIAC) will be either the No. 3 or No. 4 seed in the eight-team bracket. The Dragons will go for 20 wins Saturday in the season finale at Ohio Dominican.
Tiffin turned the ball over 12 times in the first half, and trailed 24-22 at the break after Lake Erie's Jen Caiola buried a 3 from the wing at the buzzer. While the Dragons played better in the second half, at first it looked like more of the same. TU turned the ball over on its first two offensive possessions, allowing the Storm to grab a 31-24 edge after Brit Busson converted a pair of free throws at the 17:56 mark.
"Everyone was trying to do too much," Dragons' coach Pam Oswald said. "Our post players were what was keeping us in the game."
TU finally got its offense going, responding with a 12-1 run, capped when Baute found Jaeb for a left wing 3 and a 36-32 lead.
"Baute, she's a spark," Jaeb said.
Lake Erie (16-9, 10-8) tied the game quickly, and the game continued to see-saw until the final minutes. With the Dragons clinging to a 49-47 lead, Mast got the ball, did a stutter-step, then launched a trey from the right wing and nailed it.
Then, after a defensive stop, Jaeb found Johnston deep in the left corner. Another 3. TU grabbed a 55-47 edge with 3:34 left.
"The second half, it was a battle," said Johnston, who finished with 10 points. "It's great when we're hitting shots. We were feeling it the last 10 minutes of the game."
But the win wouldn't have been possible without Harris, who had 14 points, and Baute, who had eight.
"Baute and I, (Jillian Adams), too, that's just our role," Harris said. "Anything to help the team, that's what we'll do."
Adams had 10 points, three rebounds.
Stephanie Rogers had 12 points to lead the Storm.
As for Tiffin, Harris said the team was happy to set a win mark and secure a postseason home game. But she said the Dragons won't stop there.
"It's not enough," she said.