By Nicholas Huenefeld/Owens Sports Information
East Peoria, IL---Meshia Smith stole the show as the No. 9 Express women's basketball team rallied from a terrible start to defeat St. Louis Community College 73-51 in the NJCAA D-II National Tournament Consolation Semifinals today.
With the win, the Express will now face the winner of Lake Michigan College and Iowa Central Community College in the 7th/8th place game tomorrow at 12 p.m. (CT).
The Express started the game in a funk offensively and trailed 10-0 early. They didn't score until Smith's fast break lay-up with just over 13:30 left in the half.
Karahn Scott then hit a jumper from the right corner to pull the Express within six, but St. Louis regained control and took a 21-10 lead with 6:16 left in the half.
Late in the half, the Express made a run to get it close and then finished the half on an 8-0 run to take a 31-27 lead.
The second half was all Express as they outscored St. Louis 42-24.
Scott led the Express offensively with 16 points and seven rebounds, while Uniqua Mitchell totaled 15 points, four rebounds and two blocks.
Mitchell didn't play until later in the first half, but her play and energy helped the Express begin their rally to ultimately take the lead for good.
Smith finished with 14 points, a game-high 10 rebounds, a game-high four blocks and one assist.
The Express outscored St. Louis 20-9 in points off turnovers. Their largest lead was 73-48.
St. Louis had four players in double figure scoring - Lauren Maclin with 12, Kirstie Owens and Kalah Martin with 11 each, and Chanese Washington with 10.
The Express (27-8) have the chance to finish the season off on a high note tomorrow. They will play in the 7th/8th place game against No. 11 Lake Michigan College at 12 p.m. (CT)
Lake Michigan is the defending national runner-up.
With a win, the Express would stand alone with the second most single season victories. They would also tie the second best finish in national tournament play. The 2002-03 team holds the record with 6th place, although the tournament has more teams now than it did back then.
Additionally, the Express have never won three NJCAA National Tournament games in one year, which they could achieve tomorrow.