Paige Wright (Northrop/Fort Wayne, Ind.) started it with a 3-pointer, and Kamilah Carter (Pioneer/Ann Arbor, Mich.) picked up a crucial 3-point play in overtime as the No. 6 Express women's basketball team defeated Cincinnati State Technical and Community College 89-82 in an extra session thriller.
That duo also combined to make 4-for-4 the foul line to seal a wild game. The Express only trailed once, but the Surge made it interesting down the stretch in regulation and in overtime.
After LaKayra Carlisle (Pershing/Detroit, Mich.) opened the game with a pair of free throws for the Express, Phylicia Johnson buried a 3-pointer to give her team what would turn out to be their only lead of the game.
Carlisle answered with a jumper in the paint to give the Express the lead back on the next possession as the Express stretched their lead to as many as 11 in the first half on two occassions. The first came on a Carter 3-pointer that put Owens up 25-14 with 5:05 left in the half, while the second came on a pair of Hannah Griffin(Edgerton/Edgerton, Ohio) free throws with 4:03 left that gave Owens a 27-16 lead.
The Surge closed the half well, though, and trimmed their deficit to six at 33-27.
The second half was quite the affair. Hannah Stephenson and Emily Fite hit back-to-back baskets to open the half and trim the Surge deficit to two, but Ashley Tunstall (Huber Heights Wayne/Dayton, Ohio) responded with a jumper in the paint.
After that, the teams traded baskets over the next few minutes until the Express stretched a 39-35 lead to 13 via a 9-0 run that featured eight points from Eboni Adams (Maple Heights/Cleveland, Ohio). When the run was over, the Express led 48-35 with 15:50 remaining.
The Express weren't done as Wright drained a 3-pointer from straightaway to give the Express a 53-37 lead with 14:25 left. The Surge, however, answered that with a 12-0 run, capped by a 3-pointer from the left wing by Johnson that made it 53-49 with 8:58 left.
The Surge trimmed it to two on an Ericka Fitzpatrick lay-up with 7:23 left before Carlisle buried a corner three to put her team back up five. The Surge then, once again, responded with a 5-0 run to tie the game at 58-all with 4:59 remaining.
The Express followed with baskets from Adams and Zhana Randolph (Rochester Hills/Rochester Hills, Mich.), while the Surge got baskets from Stephenson and Fite to force a 62-all game with 2:29 remaining.
That's when things got silly.
Adams drained a pair of free throws to give the Express a two-point lead, Carter stole the ball and drained a jumper, Fitzpatrick missed a lay-up, Carter grabbed the rebound and drained a 3-pointer from the right wing to give the Express a 69-62 lead with 1:27 left.
With the game seemingly over, the Surge closed the half on an 8-1 run. Fite hit a jumper, Johnson hit a 3-pointer and Fite made 1-for-2 at the line to trim it to a one point game. Carter then gave the Surge an opening by making only 1-for-3 over two trips to the foul line, which set up a coast to coast driving lay-up from Fitzpatrick with 1.5 seconds left to tie it up.
The Express called a timeout and heaved a baseball pass down the court, but it was tipped and the game went to OT.
The Express got the overtime tip and Adams dished to Wright for a corner 3-pointer to give the Express some momentum. Adams followed with 1-for-2 at the foul line, Fite made 1-for-2 at the line and Tunstall hit a lay-up to put the Express up five at 76-71 with 3:49 left.
The Surge answered with an 11-6 run to tie the game at 82-all with 1:02 left. The Surge's Dawn Johnson even had a chance to give her team the lead, but missed the back end of two free throws.
That's when Carter drove on the right side of the lane to the hoop, made a lay-up, got fouled and made the ensuing free throw to give the Express an 85-82 lead. After a missed 3-pointer from Dawn Johnson, Carter hit 2-for-2 at the line to stretch it to five. Fitzpatrick then missed a jumper and Wright was fouled, and she hit both free throws to seal the game with 10 seconds left.
Carter and Adams each finished with a game-high 22 points, with Carter playing 42 of the game's 45 minutes. After scoring only five points on 2-for-12 shooting in the first half, Carter scored 10 points on 4-for-7 shooting in the second half. She then added seven points in the OT session, while chipping in five rebounds, two assists and two steals overall.
Adams, who fouled out in the overtime session, finished 9-for-16 from the field, 1-for-2 from 3-point range and 3-for-4 from the foul line. She added six rebounds, three assists and two blocks.
Tunstall added 14 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and one steal from the starting lineup, while Wright had 10 points, seven rebounds, four assists and one steal off the bench. She had missed the team's last game, but played 32 minutes and finished 2-for-5 from 3-point range and 4-for-4 from the foul line. It was her first double figure scoring game since Jan. 29 against Edison.
Fite, after a slow first half, led the Surge with 21 points, nine rebounds, two assists, one steal and one block off the bench. She finished 9-for-14 from the field. Fitzpatrick and Phylicia Johnson each scored 18, while Alexus Chinn added 10.
Phylicia Johnson, Danielle Cheatum and Alexus Chinn all fouled out in overtime for the Surge, who lost for the second time to the Express this year.
With the win, the Express are now at least two games up on everyone else in the Ohio Community College Athletic Conference (OCCAC) with four games left. They are now 21-2 overall and 7-1 in OCCAC play, while the Surge fall to 16-10 overall and 7-3 in OCCAC play.
The Express will travel to Edison Community College on Wednesday for a 5:30 p.m. matchup before hosting Columbus State Community College next Wednesday. The Cougars dealt the Express their only conference loss on Feb. 1.