By Chris Schmidbauer, Sports Information Director
Harrison, AR -- After a heart breaking loss less than 24 hours ago to Mesa, Owens was unable to rally from down double digits in the fourth, losing to Illinois Central 68-62.
The Express had a quick turnaround after last night's 70-68 loss to Mesa in the quarterfinals of the NJCAA Division II game, and Owens never found their groove this afternoon until middle of the fourth period. The Express trailed 18-14 at the end of the first period after a quick start. The Cougars were able to close the quarter on a 16-6 run to take a four point lead into the second period.
The Cougars would add to their lead, going up by as much as seven on a Madison Faulkner basket with 7:16 to play in the first half. Owens would come right back though, getting as close as two points at 28-26 after a bucket by Da'Vina Shelton with 4:34 to play in the second period. The Express would not score again over the remainder of the period, as Illinois Central would close the quarter on a 9-0 run. Abby Coates would score the final two points of the period for Illinois Central with eight seconds to play. The Cougars led Owens 37-26 at the break.
Things would not get much better in the third period. Owens would finally be able to take the lid off the basket, but they could not solve the Cougars post offense. The Cougars would outscore Owens 25-22 in the period and they would lead by as much as 17 points after a Kellyn Maynard basket with 1:01 to play in the quarter. Essence Cowan would score five points over the final moments of the period, and the Cougars led Owens 62-48 after thirty minutes of play.
The two teams would trade baskets to start the fourth period. Illinois Central still held a 14 point lead at 64-50 with 7:28 to play in the ball game. Owens would start to chip away at the deficit, getting within single digits after a pair of Dai'Shona Polk free throws with 4:08 to play. The closest Owens would come would be five points with 45 seconds to play after two Da'Vina Shelton free throws. The Express would have their chances, but they were unable to get the shots to fall. The Cougars would put the game away at the free throw line. Polk would score a bucket with two seconds to play but the score was not enough, as the Express fell by six points to the Cougars.
Owens was led in scoring by Kaylah Ivey, who was a consistent contributor in an otherwise uneven offensive performance for the Express. The sophomore center scored 18 points on 7-11 shooting in her final game for the Express. She also had a game high nine rebounds in 28 minutes of play. Dai'Shona Polk would finish with 16 points on 5-11 shooting in 31 minutes of action. She also was 6-13 from the free throw line on the afternoon.
Brenda Pennington, who started the game on the bench due to an illness, played 31 minutes and finished her final game for the Express with six points on 2-8 shooting.
Jasmine Levy was the leading scorer for the Cougars. She scored 12 points off the bench on 6-9 shooting. She also had eight rebounds for Illinois Central. Madison Faulkner added 10 for ICC on 4-6 shooting from the floor.
For the game, the Express shot just 33.3% (19-57) for the contest and just 12.5% (2-16) from three. Owens also struggled from the foul line, shooting 64.7% (22-34). Illinois Central would shoot 46.4% (26-56) and a paltry 18.8% (3-16) from beyond the arc.
Owens finishes the season at 26-6 overall.
The sophomores finish their Owens career with a combined record of 57-7 in their two years and they also had a 19-1 record in OCCAC regular season play. They have two OCCAC regular season title to their credit and they won this year's District I title a week and a half ago.