By Ian Shalapata
(WINDSOR, ON) – The Saint John Mill Rats made their only regular season appearance in Windsor Sunday afternoon, and found a less than welcoming Express squad. By the end of 48 minutes, the home side finished on top, 116-104 in a hard fought battle.
The 1st quarter started as a see-saw tilt with the Express emerging with a 29-26 lead. Despite a Maurice Bolden two-handed slam to open the 2nd frame, Saint John went on a 10-run, taking a 49-39 lead into the dressing room.
The Mill Rats extended their lead to 22 points in the 3rd, but Windsor managed to close the gap somewhat, as they faced an 84-69 disadvantage heading into final stanza.
Kirk Williams Jr set the stage for an Express comeback as he knocked down a pair of buckets to open the 4th quarter. With under 7 minutes to lay, Bolden hit on two attempts from the penalty stripe to shorten the margin to 92-83.
Point guard Tony Bennett then tied the score with 1:10 remaining and the teams ran nose-to-nose to the buzzer to set up overtime.
Despite Saint John pushing hard, the momentum had swung Windsor’s way. Shaquille Keith laid in two points for the Express followed by a trey from Brandon Robinson with a minute left in the period. From there Windsor dropped 6 more points to seal the victory.
Robinson hit a game-high 25 points while Bennett wasn’t far behind with 23. Keith dropped 18 coming off the bench for Windsor.
The Express (16-13) now trail the division leading London Lightning by 3 games with 11 remaining in the regular season. They’ll take their modest 2-game winning streak into the final two matches of a 4-game home stand.
Windsor will first host Niagara this Thursday at 7:30pm and then the Lightning on Saturday at the same time. As always, you can win tickets to Express home games by emailing the answer to the skill testing question, (5×2)+7.