Former Michigan State guard Kalin Lucas scored a game-high 32 points helping snap Erie’s six-game losing streak.
Grand Rapids scurried out to a 20-9 lead behind 4-of-5 shooting from behind the three-point arc. Ray McCallum hit Henry Ellenson on a backdoor cut for a layup that put the Drive up 26-14, then Ellenson drove the left baseline for a reverse layup to stretch the lead to 14 points. Ramon Harris followed with his own layup to push the lead to 30-14. The Drive would get the lead to 20 points at 36-16 before a Bayhawks basket cut the lead to 36-18 at the first quarter break.
Erie came out punching in the second quarter as they scored the first 14 points out of the break, hitting two three-pointers to get within four points of Grand Rapids at 36-32. Lorenzo Brown stopped the streak when he hit two free throws at the 8:40 mark, but Erie had gone on a 20-2 run. McCallum and Ellenson hit consecutive three’s before Gabe York drained one of his own to make the score 44-41 in favor of Grand Rapids. The Drive started the second quarter shooting just 2-for-11. The lead would grow to 10 points again on a Harris deep ball, but the Bayhawks need the quarter on a 9-3 run. The score was 56-52 at the half after Erie’s 34-20 margin in the second. Ellenson had 12 points at the break for GR as did Erie’s Stefan Jankovic. Lucas had nine points at halftime.
After an Erie bucket to start the second half, Ellenson hit his third triple as the teams traded baskets early. Marcus Simmons scored seven points in a flurry to give Grand Rapids a 70-60 lead with 8:06 on the clock. McCallum hit a three to put the Drive up 80-70 but Erie finished the quarter on a 12-2 run behind Shevon Thompson, Jankovic and Lucas, who had 13 points in the third. The game was tied at 82-82 heading into the fourth.
After a touchy foul call, Rex Walters received two technical fouls at 10:18 of the 4th quarter with the score tied 84-84 and was ejected from the game. Assistant coach Ryan Krueger took over on the sidelines for Grand Rapids as Erie took control of the game, ripping away the lead at 86-84 and never looking back. Lucas scored eight points in the fourth as the Bayhawks closed the game with a 35-29 quarter. McCallum hit a triple and a layup to get the Drive back within two at 109-107, but Erie ended the game on an 8-4 run to secure the victory.
Ellenson led the way for the Drive with 31 points on 10-of-17 shooting and eight rebounds, McCallum added 27 points and eight assists and Brown finished with 26 points and 7 rebounds.
The Bayhawks ends their six-game losing streak with Lucas scoring 32 points and dishing out 8 assists and Stefan Jankovic having a breakout night with 29 points.
Grand Rapids is now four games back of Fort Wayne in the race of the final Eastern Conference playoff spot with only eight games to play. They’ll return home to the DeltaPlex Arena on Wednesday, March 15, when they host the Maine Red Claws in a school day game that starts at 11 a.m.