By Nicholas Huenefeld/Owens Sports Information
Toledo, Ohio---Ashley Tunstall (Huber Heights Wayne/Dayton, Ohio) and Kamilah Carter (Pioneer/Ann Arbor, Mich.) led the No. 6 Express women's basketball team back from down 16 points to capture an 88-82 win over No. 16 Cincinnati State Technical and Community College in the SHAC today.
Cincinnati State's Phylicia Johnson reigned supreme early on as her 26 first half points had the Express down 39-23 with 5:37 left in the first half. However, Cincinnati State's starting point guard Hannah Stephenson picked up her second foul moments later. She went to the bench and the Express started picking up some momentum.
Carter helped the Express closed out the half on a 15-8 run with a 3-pointer and a lay-up in the final minute, although the Surge held a 47-38 lead at the break.
In the second half, the Express erased their nine-point deficit in just under four minutes. Carter had five points in a 17-4 run that saw the Express tie it at 51-all with 15:44 left and take a 55-51 lead with 14:35 left.
During that stretch, the Express defense held Cincinnati State to 2-for-9 shooting and two turnovers. On the other side, the Express offense shot 8-for-10 from the field during that stretch.
Later, Carter and Paige Wright (Northrop/Fort Wayne, Ind.) made back-to-back 3-pointers to five the Express a 64-55 lead with 11:54 left.
Moments later, Carter hit another three, and Tunstall followed by back-to-back layups that gave the Express a 71-59 lead. After each team traded two-point baskets, the Express offense became stagnant as the Surge went on a 6-0 run to pull within six.
Zhana Randolph's (Rochester/Rochester Hills, Mich.) running jumper in the lane stopped the run and put the Express back up eight with 4:02 left, but that didn't create any momentum for the home team as the Surge then went on a 7-0 run to pull within one at the 2:27 mark.
Ericka Fitzpatrick had a chance to tie the game at 75-all, but she missed the back end of two free throws. With the Surge pressing defensively, the Express offense reawakened with a 3-point play by Carter and a lay-up from Tunstall that put them up 80-76 with 2:01 left.
A little later, with the Express up just two with the ball and just under 30 seconds remaining, Cincinnati State was forced to foul. Tunstall would make a pair of free throws to put the Express up four. Dawn Johnson missed a 3-pointer for Cincinnati State on the ensuing possession, the Express rebounded and made 4-for-4 from the foul line to close it out (two each from Carter and Tunstall).
Phylicia Johnson, after a stellar first half in which she finished 8-for-9 from the field (including 4-for-4 from 3-point range and 6-for-6 from the foul line), had just four points in the second half. The Express defense held her two 1-for-5 shooting in the second frame. She totaled a game-high 30 points, along with four steals, three assists and three rebounds.
Three others hit double figures for Cincinnati State as Dawn Johnson totaled 13, Stephenson had 12 and Danielle Cheatum had 11 points.
The Express, meanwhile, were led in scoring by Carter. The sophomore point guard tallied 29 points on 10-for-16 shooting, including a 3-for-5 mark from 3-point range and a 6-for-7 finish from the foul line. She added five assists, three rebounds and two steals.
Tunstall finished 9-for-11 from the field, while scoring a season-high 22 points and grabbing a team best 10 rebounds. It was her third straight double-double, as well as her fourth straight game in double figure rebounding.
Eboni Adams (Maple Heights/Cleveland, Ohio) chipped in 18 points, six rebounds and three assists for the Express, while Randolph led the bench in scoring with 11. She added two rebounds, one steal and one block.
Kheri Motley (West Bloomfield/West Bloomfield, Mich.) fought foul trouble throughout the game and eventually fouled out in just 16 minutes of action, but totaled five rebounds and two steals, which tied her for the team-high in the theft category. LaKayra Carlisle (Pershing/Detroit, Mich.) added a bench-high seven rebounds in 13 minutes.
The Express committed a season-high 25 turnovers, but countered with a season-high shooting percentage as a team. They shot 34-for-65 (52.3 percent) overall, 4-for-11 (36.4 percent) from 3-point range and 16-for-21 (76.2 percent) from the foul line.
The Express (16-1, 2-0 OCCAC) have now won 16 straight games. The team is one game short of tying the 1996-97 team for second longest winning streak in program history, while the 2009-10 team's 18-game win streak is just two games away. They will travel to Lakeland Community College on Wednesday for a 5:30 p.m. matchup.
Cincinnati State falls to 11-7 overall and 2-1 in OCCAC play with the loss.
The Express have now won three straight over Cincinnati State dating back to last season. The two teams will meet again, in Cincinnati, on Feb. 15.
Also, when it comes to streaks, the Express have won nine straight regular season conference games. The school record is 14.
With their games today, Carter crossed the 300 point mark on the season and now stands at 328, while Adams crossed the 200 point mark and has 214 this year.