(WINDSOR, ON) – Fresh off a home win against London, the Windsor Express were looking to build a winning streak and generate some momentum in March. Returning to the WFCU Centre Wednesday night were the Niagara River Lions.
The game turned into a block party right from the opening tip.
The usual suspects, such as big man Nick Evans, started it off and was followed up by blocks from Wally Ellenson and Darren Duncan. Ellenson found success both under the basket and from beyond the arc, hitting a catch and shoot three, and contributing to his six first quarter points.
By half time, the score had been tied six times and the lead had changed seven times in what was shaping up to be a truly back-and-forth affair.
Both Windsor and Niagara had the same number of team assists, points in the paint, and second chance points in the first half. In a tightly contested matchup, Windsor held a one point advantage at halftime, leading 49-48, on the back on Juan Pattillo’s 15 first half points.
Windsor’s newly acquired bench players were on full display to begin the second half. The rotation went 10 players deep for much of the third quarter, getting valuable minutes from Shaquille Keith and Tony Bennett.
The Express held a 2-point advantage due to the timely 3-point shooting of Bennett, who beat the buzzer to end the third. Bennett carried his hot hand into the 4th quarter, running point a 10-3 Windsor run and giving the Express their largest lead of the game.
Down by 6, the River Lions fed Kirk Williams Jr down low, where he was able to get a bucket and draw a foul, completing the three point play and pulling Niagara to within 3. Windsor came up empty on the ensuing possession and gave Niagara an opportunity to capitalize in this one possession game.
Tyler Murray tipped in the missed layup in transition and cut the Windsor lead to 1, with nine seconds remaining. The clock wound down to seven before Ellenson was fouled by a Niagara defender. Ellenson hit both shots from the charity stripe to push the Windsor lead to 3 points.
Niagara had an opportunity to tie the game, however, with enough time for one possession. Windsor double teamed the shooter in the corner, resulting in Niagara’s final shot failing to even graze the rim.
The Express then held on to earn the win 93-89.
The player of the game was Juan Pattillo, who scored a game-high 26 points to go along with his 2 assists and 3 rebounds.
Tony Bennett dropped 18 points, 4 assists, and 1 board while DeAndre Thomas notched 11 points and 6 rebounds.
Windsor will complete their three game home stand when they face the Orangeville A’s on March 22. Tipoff is 7:00pm.