By Nicholas Huenefeld/Owens Sports Information
Toledo, Ohio---Brenda Pennington (Bishop Noll/Hammond, Ind.) scored seven of her game-high 15 points in the fourth quarter to propel the No. 2 Owens Community College women's basketball team to a 79-68 win over Cincinnati State in today's regular season finale.
With the win, Owens (30-0, 16-0 OCCAC) became the first team in the history of athletics at the college to complete an undefeated regular season. They have now won 25 straight games at home, 50 straight games in regular season conference play, 44 straight in the regular season and 32 straight games overall. They are also 74-1 at home since February of 2012.
On top of that, Owens has now completed three straight seasons with a perfect regular season conference record.
Owens will now open postseason play on Friday at 1 p.m. in a Region XII District I semifinal against the winner of Tuesday's Sinclair/Edison quarterfinal. The tournament is being held at Ohio Christian University in Circleville, Ohio.
Cincinnati State fell to 24-6 overall and 13-3 in OCCAC play with the loss. They will face Cuyahoga in a Region XII District I semifinal on Friday and could get another chance at Owens in the championship game.
Pennington finished 5-for-9 from the field, as well as 5-for-6 from the foul line, to reach her game-high 15 points. Jeryn Reese (Mansfield/Mansfield, Ohio) finished second on the team in scoring with 14, while adding 10 rebounds and six steals. Ariel Bethea (Huron/Ann Arbor, Mich.) had 13 points and a game-high eight steals, which was one off of her career-high.
Kaylah Ivey (Westerville South/Westerville, Ohio) also finished with a double-double. The freshman center had 11 points, a game-high 13 rebounds and two blocks. Today's game was the third time this season in which Reese and Ivey both recorded a double-double.
Aside from those four, Sybil Roseboro (Elyria/Elyria, Ohio) had 12 points and four rebounds, while Denissa Sly (Northmont/Englewood, Ohio) had 10 points and five rebounds.
Ashley Moore led Cincinnati State with 14 points. Chloe Baird and Takyra Gilbert each added 12 points, and Cedrica Anderson had a team-high 10 rebounds.
The game itself saw Owens score six of the first seven and 12 of the first 14 points. Bethea (6) and Reese (4) combined for 10 of those, and Reese's layup with 4:21 left in the first quarter pushed the Owens lead to 12.
Baird's jumper with 2:06 left in the quarter pulled her team within five, but Owens closed the quarter on an 8-0 run, with half of the points coming from Sly, to take a 25-12 lead.
Baird then hit a 3-pointer, followed by back-to-back buckets from Ashleigh Gary, as Cincinnati State opened the second quarter on a 7-2 run. Ivey answered with five straight points to push the lead to nine.
Roseboro and Moore traded 3-pointers before a jumper from Sly put Owens up 37-26 with 1:52 left in the half. Aliyah Thomas pulled Cincinnati State within six in the final minute, but Sly hit an off balance jumper off the glass with three seconds left to give Owens an eight-point margin at the half.
Cincinnati State scored the first three points of the second half, but Pennington answered with back-to-back layups, which set up a back-and-forth second half.
Over the next four minutes, the lead went back-and-forth between seven and nine points until a jumper from Reese pushed it to 10 with four minutes left. Essence Cowan (Lima Senior/Lima, Ohio) swiped an inbounds pass and went the distance for a fast break layup to push it to 11 just over a minute later.
Cincinnati State, however, scored five straight points in an 18-second span to make it 55-49, which was the closest they had been in the half except for the third quarter opening spurt. Sly, however, answered with a short jumper from the left side of the rim, and Bethea closed the quarter with a pair of free throws to give Owens an eight-point lead.
Bethea and Pennington gave Owens the first four points of the fourth to push the lead to 12, and a free throw from Roseboro gave Owens a 69-55 lead with 4:26 left. Gilbert's jumper pulled Cincinnati State back within 10 one minute later, but Bethea completed a three-point play on the other end.
From there, the lead hovered around 10, and Pennington scored the final three points for Owens from the foul line.
Owens shot 9-for-21 (42.9 percent) from the field and 7-for-9 from the foul line in the first quarter that saw them open up a 25-12 lead. They were just 15-for-57 (26.3 percent) the rest of the way.
Owens overcame a season-worst 1-for-15 performance from 3-point range by making 30-for-38 from the foul line and forcing 33 turnovers, which led to 24 points the other way.
Cincinnati State's 68 points was the second highest total against the Owens defense this year behind the 77-point output from Columbus State on Feb. 18. It also marked the closest win of the season.
Owens honored its four-member sophomore class prior to the game, which includes Bethea, Reese, Roseboro and Courizma Williams (Hughes/Cincinnati, Ohio).
Former Owens WBB standouts Lakyn Gulley (2015-16), Zhana Randolph (2013-15) and Kheri Motley (2013-15), among others, were in attendance for the game.
Reese's 14 points and 10 rebounds push her career totals to 903 points and 662 rebounds. She now needs just two rebounds to break Tammy Murphy's career record set in 1998, and she became the eighth player in program history to reach 900 points. Next up on the career scoring list is Stacey Weiland (908, 2002-04), Emma-Jean Ricketts (918, 2011-13) and Elizabeth Harris (919, 1996-98). On top of that, Reese tied her career-high for steals today.
Ivey recorded her fourth double-double over the past six games. It was her ninth of the season.
Williams was held to just two points this afternoon. She remains one point shy of 600 in her career, which would make her the 31st player in program history to reach that milestone, and three of those 31 would be in this year's sophomore class.
Bethea, who leads the nation in steals per game and broke the program's single season and career steal records earlier this year, now has 15 games with at least six steals as a sophomore. Her career steal total is now up to 242, and she needs 23 more assists for 200 in her career.
Sly's double digit scoring game was her fifth of the season.
Roseboro is now just eight points away from 400 in her career.
Owens is now 28-33 all-time against Cincinnati State since 1992-93, but they have now won 11 of the past 12 in the series. In fact, outside of a 19-1 stretch in favor of Cincinnati State from Jan. 15, 1999 to Jan. 6, 2007, Owens is 27-14 in the series. Head coach Mike Llanas is now 15-15 all-time in his career.
Owens is the two-time defending Region XII District I champion. With another title next week, it would be the first time in program history the team won three in a row.
The OCCAC will be posting a Region XII District I tournament preview and bracket on its website (www.occac.org) on Monday.
No. 2 Owens WBB Makes History, Completes 30-0 Regular Season With 79-68 Win Over Cincinnati State
By Nicholas Huenefeld/Owens Sports Information