(WINDSOR, ON) – The Niagara River Lions won 3 of the 4 quarters last night, but it was the one they lost that spelt their doom. With the 100-97 loss, Niagara has now fallen into a 0-2 deficit to the Windsor Express in Round 1 of the NBL Canada playoffs.
The Lions held a 2-point lead after the first 12 minutes and expanded the margin to 3 points by the half. In the 3rd, Windsor turned on the heat and leapt ahead of Niagara, taking a 74-70 lead into the final frame.
The Express began the 4th on an 11-3 run before the Lions woke up to the carnage. The teams started to exchange scoring with the Lions enjoying a 17-9 advantage. With 2:26 left to play, Kirk Williams Jr dropped two from the paint, then Shaquille Keith knocked down a trey to keep the Lions at bay.
An entire 1:40 would pass without any scoring plays and Niagara was running out of time to close the gap. BJ Monteiro got the visitors within three of Windsor, but Keith put up two more to provide the margin of victory despite Samuel Muldrow hitting for two at the buzzer.
Niagara has served notice to the Express that they won’t go down without a fight. Windsor has a chance to put the Lions away in a sweep tomorrow evening in St Catharines, but it won’t be an easy task as suggested by Game 1’s 15-point spread.
Brandon Robinson once again hit for a game-high 24 points for Windsor. Robinson added 2 blocks and 3 assists in his starring role.
For a double-double, Williams added 22 points, 13 boards, and 5 steals as he dominated both ends of the court.
Being fouled all night, Tony Bennett went to the penalty stripe for 11 shots, connecting on nine of them. As a result, the Windsor point guard dropped 17 on the night and added 10 assists to record the double-double.
For his part, Keith finished with 16 points including the timely 5 points in the stretch.
In a defensive role, Maurice Bolden got above the rim for 5 big blocks which may have proven to be the difference between winning or losing on the night.
If necessary, due to a Niagara win on Friday, the teams are scheduled to meet again Saturday with a return trip to Windsor on May 10, if the worst happens.
In other series around the league, London leads Orangeville 2-0, Saint John has a 1-0 advantage over Moncton in the Battle for New Brunswick, and Halifax and the Island Storm tip off in the opening game tonight.