With just one game remaining before the start of the District 11 Tournament, the Owens Express jumped out to a double digit lead early and never looked back as they throttled the Clark State Eagles on Saturday afternoon.
Owens opened the game on a 22-5 run in the first seven and a half minutes of the game. Sophomore Jamiri Bennett, in his final home game, scored 10 of the team's first 22 points of the game. The Express would push their first half lead to a high as 20 points at 33-13 at the 8:57 mark of the first half after a Marquevious Wilson three pointer.
Clark State would go on a scoring run of their own over the next five minutes. The Eagles would cut the lead to 13 points on a pair of free throws from Curtis Miller with a little over four minutes to play in the game's opening frame.
The two teams would trade baskets over the final few minutes of the first half, with the Express outscoring Clark State 11-8 the remainder of the half. Owens would head to the locker room up 16 at 51-35.
The Express would come out of the locker room on fire. Owens would push their lead to 25 points within just 1:56 into the second half on a layup from Justin Sylver. The Eagles would trim the score to a 22 point lead for Owens, and then the Express would use a stifling press to stretch their lead even further. The Express would go on a 12-2 run to go up by 33 points after a steal and layup from Dru Pettigrew. That came after a thunderous dunk from freshman Davion Baker on the prior possession.
The Express were not done yet though. They would push the lead to as high as 40 with 4:54 to play in the second half on a Bennett jumper. Then after a 6-0 run by the Eagles. Owens would answer with a 7-0 run to push the lead to 41 points on a layup from DJ Tyree.
Clark State would score the game's final five points, and when the final buzzer sounded, the Express had secured a 36 point win in the regular season finale.
The Express's four sophomores all gave solid contributions in their final home game in their Express career. Both Jamiri Bennett and Marquevious Wilson scored 20 points against the Eagles. Bennett was 7-13 from the floor and 2-3 from beyond the arc. He was also a perfect 4-4 from the free throw line. Wilson was 9-13 from the floor and 2-6 from three. He also led the team in assists with seven and steals with six. The Lima native also had six rebounds on the afternoon as well.
The twin towers of Justin Sylver and Julian Egbo capped off their final home games with terrific afternoon. Sylver finished with 11 points on 5-9 shooting and five rebounds. Egbo had eight points on 4-5 shooting and a game high 12 rebounds in 21 minutes of play.
Three other players finished in double figures for Owens. Gabe Simpson had 15 points on 6-14 shooting. He also had four rebounds, four assists, and four steals. Off the bench Dru Pettigrew was hot from three. He scored 13 points on 5-6 shooting and 3-4 from downtown. He also nabbed four steals for the Express. Finally, DJ Tyree scored 10 points on 5-10 shooting and he also had three assists.
As a team, Owens shot a scorching 56.1% (46-82) from the field and 44% (11-25) from three for the ball game. The Express bench outscored the Eagles' bench 34-6 in the ballgame. In fact all but one Express player scored at lead two points on the afternoon. The 36 point win was the team's largest this season.
Owens has now won their thirteenth game in a row. This is their longest win streak of the season, which started back on January 10 with an 89-63 win over Sinclair College. This is the program's longest winning streak since the 2005-2006 season when the Express won 14 games in a row. The current team has a chance to match that streak, if they are able to win the their first District Tournament this coming Friday.
Owens is now 20-7 overall and 14-2 in the OCCAC, which will make them the #2 seed next weekend in the District Tournament. Clark State fell to 5-20 overall and 2-14 in the OCCAC.
The Express will likely play in the final game of the day in the District 11 Tournament next Friday March 9 at 8:00 PM. They will play either Sinclair or Edison State depending on the outcome of the Edison State and Cuyahoga game on Saturday afternoon.