(WINDSOR, ON) – With a few days off and a long flight into Windsor, the Island Storm, who call Charlottetown home, were ready for the pickings last night at the WFCU Arena. And the Windsor Express certainly took advantage of the situation as they walked away with a Game 1 victory by a 122-100 margin.
Windsor put the London series, and the controversy, behind them and set themselves to the task of winning their first ever NBL Championship Final. The players responded with a run of seven points to start the game and carried that through to a 1st quarter lead of 27-23.
The Express extended the lead to 13 points at the half, 59-46, on 48% shooting from the field and a remarkable 87% from the free throw line. Windsor shot from the line 16 times and hit on 14 attempts while the Island Storm were only awarded ten tries, dropping just six of them.
Windsor became a little less disciplined during the second half as the referees sent the Storm to the line 26 times. Luckily for Windsor, the visitors hit on only 16 attempts, leaving 10 points on the table. For their part, the Express continued to dominate the floor as they went 23 for 42, including 6 for 13 from downtown. By the end of the 3rd Windsor was enjoying an 85-73 lead.
The big man on the night for Windsor was the captain, Darren Duncan. The pride of Merrimack dropped a game high 26 points and dished off 11 times for the double-double. Duncan shot 46% from the floor and an astounding 11 for 13 from the penalty line. He was, deservedly, named the Player of the Game.
Chris Commons also produced a double-double for the Express. The 6′ 9″ forward out of USC Aiken lit up the night with 18 points and pulled down 11 boards. In total, Windsor had six players in the double digits in points; DeAndre Thomas (19), Papa Oppong (15), Stefan Bonneau (14), and Kevin Loiselle were the others. Oppong was a perfect 5 for 5 from beyond the arc to account for his scoring.
Defensively, the Express were on their game as well. George Goode led the way in his own zone with three blocks, one steal, and nine rebounds. Duncan added three steals and four other players had two apiece.
The Express had a late game scare when Bonneau pulled up lame with a lower body injury. He was escorted to the dressing room for treatment. Although he returned to the bench, Bonneau did not re-enter the game. He is listed as day-to-day.
The Express and the Storm meet for game 2, in this best of seven series, on Sunday at 2:00 pm in Windsor. That’ll be followed by three games on the island before returning to Windsor for games six and seven, if necessary.