The No. 10 Owens Community College men's basketball team used a balanced team scoring attack and survived some late-game scares to win a share of the Ohio Community College Athletic Conference (OCCAC) Championship for the first time since 2001-02.
The Express were able to hold on in the end and defeat Sinclair Community College 104-99. Shaakir Lindsey (Teaneck/Teaneck, NJ) andBikramjit Gill (Our Ascension Of The Lord/Toronto, Ontario) powered the Express with double-doubles.
Lindsey finished the game only five assists short of the school single-game record of 19 set by Brian Brinkley in 1980-81. On top of his season-high 14 assists, Lindsey added 12 points.
Gill's produced 20 points and 15 boards to get his double-double. He finished the day shooting 7-for-13 from the field and 6-for-7 on free throws, while adding three blocks, two steals and one assist. Four of his rebounds came on the offensive glass.
John Murry (North Central/Indianapolis, Ind.) led all scorers with 22 points. He was 8-for-13 from the field, including 3-for-5 on 3-pointers. Murry tacked on six rebounds, three assists, and a block.
Andy Bachman (North Side/Fort Wayne, Ind.) also had a stellar game for the Express, coming up huge late in the game. He finished 7-for-10 from the field, including 5-for-7 from the 3-point line. Bachman's 2-for-2 from the foul line pushed his point total to 21. The 6-6 forward also finished with seven rebounds, five assists, and three steals.
The game started out with Sinclair pushing the pace and dictating the game. The Tartan Pride led 16-9 with 14:37 to go. The Express began to battle back after consecutive threes by Edmond Early Jr. (Thurgood Marshall/Dayton, Ohio) and Tony Boykins (Loy Norrix/Kalamazoo, Mich.).
The action was fairly back-and-forth until the 8:34 mark when a Markese Allen (Crockett/Detroit, Mich.) sank a jump shot to give the Express their first lead of the game. The Express were able to push the lead to 50-40 at the half.
The Express carried their momentum into the second half and led 70-50 at just over 13 minutes left. Sinclair started to push back and eventually worked the deficit to a mere three points after a Conner Myslowski three with 3:38 left. The deficit hovered around three for the last couple of minutes.
The most nerve-wracking moment for the Express came at about 45 seconds left in the game when Richard Weaver of Sinclair stole an attempted pass and gave it to Westley Parr who appeared to have a pass up the right side of the court but instead tossed it right into the hands of Tony Boykins.
In the end, the Express held on and answered every push Sinclair made to get the road win.
Early Jr. led all bench scorers for the Express with 11 points on 4-for-7 shooting. He added two assists.
The Express finished the game 37-for-68 (54.4 percent) from the field, 12-for-25 (48 percent) from 3-point range and 18-for-25 (72 percent) from the foul line.
With today's victory, the Express get a share of the OCCAC championship, along with No. 1 Cincinnati State. The Surge were able to top Lakeland as well on Saturday to guarantee their portion of the share. It is the first conference championship in men's basketball at Owens since the 2001-02 season.
The Express finish the regular season with a 24-5 overall record and an 11-1 OCCAC record. They will open district tournament play next Friday with a rematch against Sinclair Community College. The winner will advance to the district championship game on Saturday. All tournament games are being held at Ohio Christian University in Circleville, Ohio.
Sinclair, who fell to 21-8 overall and 6-6 in the OCCAC with the loss, had six players score in double figures, led by Richard Weaver's 18 points and 10 rebounds. Other double digit scorers were: Westley Parr (15), Trace Cureton (14), Marquez Carpenter-Mathis (11), Aaron Montgomery (11), Ramar Hairston (10) and Conner Myslowski (10).