(ST CATHARINES, ON) – It’s on to the 2nd round for the Windsor Express after they swept the Niagara River Lions in their best-of-five playoff series. The Express finished on top of a 95-83 decision in St Catharines to earn the right to face London in the next stage of their run to a third straight championship.
Windsor dominated from the opening tipoff as they ran up a 10-point margin after 12 minutes. They would expand their lead by the half time buzzer to 51-32 and appeared to well in charge of their destiny.
The Express faltered, however, in the 3rd when Niagara would chip 10 points off their lead heading into the 4th quarter. Leading by nine, Windsor opened the first six minutes with a 12-5 run to all but message the home town fans not to expect another game this year.
Brandon Robinson knocked down a team-high 24 points and 8 boards to help the Express to the series victory.
Captain Chris Commons led Windsor with an all-out double-double by dropping 19 points and clearing 14 rebounds.
Billy Rush made a rare start for Windsor and chipped in 12 points while Sherron Collins and Kirk Williams Jr each put up 10 for the Express.
Point guard Tony Bennett dished 10 assists while pulling 5 rebounds and scoring 6 points while quarterbacking the Windsor attack.
The Express will now renew their Highway 401 Rivalry with London after the Lightning disposed of Orangeville 3 games to none. Windsor and London last met in the playoffs during the 2013-14 division finals when the Express out-lasted the Lightning 4-games-to-3 en route to their first NBL Canada Championship.
Each team holds a 3-2 advantage at home during regular season play.
In the East, the Halifax Hurricanes will face the Saint John Mill Rats in the Divisional Finals. The winner will face the winner of the Windsor-London best-of-seven.
In related news, on Friday, Express president and CEO Dartis Willis was named the NBLC’s Executive of the Year.
“The owner of the two-time NBL champion Express has seen increased attendance at the WFCU Centre,” a statement from the league read.”And his addition of the Clash at the Colosseum, Windsor’s annual game played at Caesars Windsor, has evolved into a marquee midseason event for the league.”