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Express down Titans in OT

Released: December 18, 2017

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(WINDSOR, ON) – Sunday, the Kitchener-Waterloo Titans landed in town to meet the Express at the WFCU Arena in NBLC action. The barn burner turned buzzer beater as a Shaquille Keith overtime triple pushed Windsor to a 117-115 marathon win.

Though the Titans took the early lead, fans could feel a big afternoon on tap for Logan Stutz as he dropped Windsor’s first 8 points before Devin White connected with a trey to even the score at 11. Another bucket by Braylon Rayson and a second by White and Windsor built their first margin of the game.

For the remainder of the quarter, the two teams traded baskets and misses until the clock ran down on a 28-25 Windsor lead. Stutz finished with 10 points on the quarter along with 5 from White.

As is their wont, Windsor put up the majority of their points from inside the paint as their outside game was lacking at 1-for-7 shooting. Kitchener managed 33 per cent from beyond the arc and 47.6 per cent from the floor.

The 2nd quarter was more of the same as neither team could establish themselves as dominant. When Windsor capitalized on two fast breaks for 4 points, including a passing clinic by Maurice Jones, the Express again had a 5-point lead, with under 3 minutes on the clock. Cue the Kitchener timeout. By halftime the score reflected the play at 52-52.

A takeaway to start the 3rd quarter, coupled with a trey by Shaquille Keith, set the tone for the following 12 minutes. Just as they did against St John’s on Friday, the Express owned the period and quickly distanced themselves by building an 8-point lead. More buckets by Stutz and defensive ball control by White, allowed Windsor to maintain their margin over Kitchener.

The Titans tried to return to their shooting game from outside, but luck eluded them. An uncharacteristic 3-straight misses from the line by Russell Byrd, to the amusement of the crowd, as well as going dry from downtown and the Titans were looking at the wrong end of an 80-72 score.

At the end of 3 periods, Stutz had pocketed 21 points and guard Jones was almost flawless in his ball control with 3 steals and 3 assists to go along with 12 points. The Express enjoyed four-of-five starters in double digit scoring with number 5 at 9. Byrd and former Express point guard Darren Duncan led the Titans offense with 14 points apiece.

With the start of the 4th quarter the fans held their collective breath, hoping against another collapse like on Friday. Kitchener promptly tied the score at 86.

"We just gotta stay focused and hold on to leads," said Anthony Ottley Jr, who came off the bench to produce at both ends of the court for Windsor. "We have to take of the ball and get stops. Those are the little things that we don't do well."

Windsor battled back with Jones leading the charge as he dished to Ottley inside and Chad Frazier for three. Frazier was also large on defense cleaning the glass and setting up a Stutz jam. By the time Serge Langis called a Titans timeout, Windsor had regained some composure and a 101-94 lead with under 2 minutes to play. Two Kitchener treys made things interesting, though.

With Byrd at the line on a late foul call, Windsor’s lead was cut to 1 with 19.7 seconds to play. Deep in the Express zone, Kitchener in-bounded the ball on a single remaining push. Kitchener went back to the line and Kevin Rogers dropped 1-of-2 to tie the game and force overtime.

Windsor’s Achilles Heel was their outside game. They managed just 15 points on 26 attempts while Kitchener dropped a resounding 39 from 37 tries. Not hitting on the shots from downtown is a dangerous combination when coupled with being unable to defend against the three-pointer.

Keith led off OT with two from the line. Rogers returned the favour. Then Jones dropped one from the penalty stripe and Ottley was awarded two, which he immediately sunk. A jumper by Ahmad Starks gave the Titans their first lead in extra time then Ottley went to work.

His two off a Jones rebound was followed by a jam plus one from the penalty stripe. He was also personally responsible for stopping two Titans drives.

With 44.4 seconds on the clock, and a 5-point Windsor lead, Langis again went back to the drawing board. When Kitchener hit for 3, Express head coach Bill Jones had his own tête-à-tête with the Windsor five. Kitchener then hit another triple, this time from the hands of the hot Starks.

As the clock ticked off the few remaining seconds Keith brought the ball, almost lazily, up court, finally crossing center after an eternity. With the fans rhyming off the seconds and Keith under pressure he put the ball up with a jumper from the side court and fell back out of bounds.

"I was just really pacing because I knew that the time was running," said Keith. "I tried to see if I could get the ball to [Maurice Jones], but Mo was getting denied. So it was a perfect chance for me to go on a fast break."

The buzzer sounded mere moments before the ball broke the rim for three and the win. The smallish crowd erupted even louder. If you missed this game, you have only yourself to blame.

"I knew there was a couple of second left on the clock so I just tried to get that extra step," Keith said. "I got exactly where I wanted to go and I knew it was good. I felt it. It's a shot that I practice all the time."

Keith’s shot was obviously huge, as were the two from Jones in the extra period, along with the latter’s two offensive rebounds. Ottley’s 8 points, however, in the 5-minute OT, and his 2 boards kept Windsor in the hunt for the victory.

Stutz led Windsor’s offensive tally with a game-high 23 points. His fellow starters, Keith (21), Jones (16), and Frazier (13), joined him in double digits. By game’s end, Jones was also credited with 5 steals and 6 assists, while Stutz, Keith, and Ottley each grabbed 8 boards.

It was Ottley’s play off the bench that stood out to the fans. In addition to his rebounding the Toronto native dropped 19 points in 14 minutes.

"I'm not satisfied, but it was a good team win, and I am happy we got the win," said Ottley. "I just told myself that when I go out there and give it my all, crash the boards, do the little things, knock down the free throws, things like that."

The win evened Windsor’s record on the season at 4-4. Their next scheduled home game is this Thursday with a meeting against the Niagara River Lions (5-4). Tip off is at 7pm. In their only previous meeting on November 26 when the Felines emerged with a 119-97 victory, but if the last two games are any indication, you won’t want to miss this one.



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