(BELLE RIVER, ON) – Despite a 10-0 run by Kitchener-Waterloo to open the 1st quarter, last night at the Atlas Tube Centre in Belle River, the transplanted Windsor Express rallied in front of 1,014 rabid fans to win the opening game of the playoffs 112-105.
Late season addition Logan Stutz logged a double-double for Windsor as the Express spread out its scoring amongst 7 players shooting in the double digits. The 6’ 9” power forward dropped 10 points and the same number of rebounds across 31 minutes of play.
Warren Ward led the offense with 24 points, on 6-for-8 shooting from outside, and was followed by Juan Pattillo with 20. The rejuvenated Darren Duncan (18), Tony Bennett (16), and Maurice Jones and Shaquille Keith each with 10 rounded out the scoring.
The league assists leader, Jones, dished 7 on the night while Bennett and Duncan each handed off 6 helpers.
Entering the game, Windsor was the odds on favourite to move on to the 2nd round of the playoffs. In seven head-to-head match ups against the Titans, the Express emerged with a 6-1 advantage, however the final outcome remained in doubt as late as 2 minutes remaining.
Kitchener-Waterloo held a 5-point margin over the Express at the end of 12 minutes and the lead went on to change seven times throughout the game. Windsor took a 21-point lead in the 3rd quarter, but the Titans wouldn’t give up. With 1.5 minutes remaining in the final frame, just a single point separated the two teams.
However, Bennett dropped 2 to push the lead to 3 and then sunk a pair of free throws to pad the cushion. Pattillo, Duncan, and Stutz then added 4 points between them to seal the victory.
“It always comes down to the wire,” said Express president Dartis Willis. “But, it was a good win.”
The teams return to Atlas Tube Centre Sunday at 2:00pm, for game 2 of the best-of-five series, before heading up the highway for a pair of scheduled games in Kitchener.