(WINDSOR, ON) – Chris Commons, the captain of the Windsor Express, went to the air waves to implore his team mates to work together more. With the defending NBL Canada champions sporting a sub .500 record, Commons was trying everything he could to help turn things around.
It seemed to work last night when Windsor hosted the London Lightning in the third edition of the Clash at the Collosseum. After a touch and go early going, the Express pulled ahead to stay and defeated their Highway 401 Rivals 114-93.
It was only the 3rd loss of the season for London, winners of the first two NBLC championships. But, Windsor displayed the same attitude and perseverance they did in Game 7 of last year’s finals to take their 2nd straight league title.
The Express led at the end of the 1st quarter by only a slim margin of 2 points. The lead changed six times, all of them in the opening 12 minutes. By the end of the 2nd, Windsor had expanded their edge to 14 points and never looked back.
While Windsor increased their overall advantage over London, the Lightning were never out of the game as they stayed close to the Express through the 3rd and 4th frames.
Brandon Robinson led the Express attack with a game-high 34 points, 5 assists, and 6 rebounds, in 42 minutes on the hardwood. Robinson showed a hot hand by connecting on 8-of-13 from beyond the arc.
For his part, Commons dropped 17 points as did Shaquille Keith, and Kirk Williams Jr chipped in with 16.
The big story on offense was Tony Bennett who registered a double-double the hard way. In addition to making 2 steals, Bennett put up 15 points and 17 assists.
The game was not without its moments. Prior to tip off, Express president and CEO Dartis Willis honoured former players, Gary Gibson, Ryan Anderson, and DeAndre Thomas, and coach Gary Mazza as members of last year’s championship team. Former fan favourite, Kevin Loiselle, played in his 3rd Clash, but was not a factor, shooting just 3 points and making 1 rebound.
There was also a bit of a dust up when Windsor forward Maurice Bolden got fed up with London’s extracurricular activity. Bolden finished with 3 points and 7 boards after being disqualified by referee Geoff Astles in the 4th quarter, much to the amazement of head coach Tony Jones.
“At some point you have to protect yourself,” Bolden said after the game. “The referees ain’t doin’ nothing about it. So, as a man, I have to stand up for myself.”
The Express take the show on the road Friday when they head to the GTA to meet the Orangeville A’s followed by a tilt against the same London team on Saturday. The team returns home on February 11 when the A’s come to town for a 7:30pm start.