By Chris Schmidbauer, Sports Information Director
Toledo, OH -- After five straight wins, Owens put their winning streak on the line on Wednesday night against undefeated #1 Cuyahoga Challengers. The Express were able to keep that streak rolling with a dramatic 78-71 win.
The Express led at halftime 39-35, after a solid start from the field. Larry Green was 3-5 from beyond the arc in the first twenty minutes to spark Owens. His nine points helped the Express jump out to an early lead that energized the home crowd.
In the second half, Owens would build their lead to double digits, leading by as much as 12 points in the early portions of the half. The Challengers would fight back though, cutting the Owens lead down to four with a little over six minutes to play in the game. The two teams would trade buckets over the next few minutes, with the Express still holding onto a four point advantage.
The Challengers would pull ahead on a Larenz Thurman three with a little over two minutes to play at 69-68. That's when Gabe Simpson took over on the offensive end.
Simpson score six of the team's final ten points, making to crucial runners and a pair of free throws down the stretcH. Simpson's offense combined with a solid defensive stand by Jamiri Bennett on the other end of the floor helped the Express pull off the eight point victory.
Simpson led all Express players in scoring with 18 points on 7-11 shooting from the floor. He also was the team leader in assists with seven.
Hot on his heels was Marquevious Wilson, who poured in 16 points on 5-11 shooting and 5-5 from the free throw line. Joining them in double figures was Julian Egbo, who was solid on the inside offensively, finishing with 11 points on 4-7 from the field. Egbo was the team's leading rebounder with five.
The team continued its hot shooting from the free throw line. After shooting 22-24 against Clark State on Saturday, the Express were 15-16 from the charity stripe against the Challengers. Overall the team shot 27-52 (51.9%) for the ball game.
The Express are now 13-7 and 7-2 in OCCAC play. They are owners of a six game winning streak, which is their longest of the season. Cuyahoga fell for the first time this season to 19-1 and 7-1 in the OCCAC. Owens lost to the Challengers back on November 29 by a final of 79-61.
The Express will be in action next on the road this Saturday, when they travel to Lorain County to take on the Commodores. The Commodores are 18-2 overall and 8-1 in the OCCAC. They now own the top spot in the conference by a half game over Cuyahoga after Owens's upset win. The Express are currently third in the conference.