By Nicholas Huenefeld/Owens Sports Information
Toledo, OH---The Express men dropped a heartbreaker to Lakeland Community College 97-94 in the SHAC tonight despite another huge night from James Kelly.
The Express controlled most of the game until midway through the second half. After taking a 49-43 lead into the break, the Express pushed their lead to 67-55 with 14:14 remaining.
At that point, the Lakers went on an 11-0 run to cut their deficit to one with 9:28 remaining. A little later, at the 8:38 mark, Deran Banton hit a floater in the lane to give Lakeland the lead, 70-69.
The game was tied at 80-all with 4:53 remaining before the Lakers got back-to-back lay-ups from Daishon Robinson and Charles Oliver to go up four.
Kelly then got an offensive rebound and a lay-in to pull the Express within two. After Lakeland re-took a four point lead, Franklin Lindsey and Joe Retic II each missed layup attempts on back-to-back possessions that could have tied the game.
Lakeland took advantage and added four more points to go up 90-82 with 1:11 remaining. The Express made a late run with late 3-pointers from Andy Bachman, Tony Boykins and Javon Rice to pull within 96-94 with 11 seconds remaining.
After Robinson made 1-for-2 from the foul line, the Express had a chance to tie the game late, but turned the ball over as time ran out.
Kelly finished with 26 points, 16 rebounds, two assists, two blocks and one steal. He finished 10-for-18 overall from the field and 6-for-7 from the foul line.
The sophomore forward is now averaging 25.5 points, 12 rebounds, three steals, two assists and one block per game in four OCCAC games.
Boykins teamed with Kelly to produce a 1-2 offensive punch for the Express tonight. The freshman guard finished with 24 points and six rebounds. Retic added 13 points and and a team-high three steals.
Bachman was the fourth and final player in double figures with 10 points, while he also added six rebounds and two blocks.
Charles Oliver led Lakeland with 25 points, six rebounds and five assists, while Banton (20), Chaz Rollins (13), Robinson (12) and Martell Medley (10) also scored in double figures. Richard Smith, who threw down a couple big dunks early in the first half, finished with nine points.
The game was a battle of two unbeatens within the OCCAC as Lakeland moved to 13-4 overall and 3-0 in the OCCAC, while Owens fell to 14-7 overall and 3-1 in the OCCAC.
The Express will now have a week off before taking on Edison Community College Jan. 30 in Piqua, OH at 7:30 p.m.
Kelly is nearing the 1,000 career point plateau as he now sits at 941 points. He is also nearing the program's career rebounding record. At 526 rebounds, Kelly is 71 rebounds shy of tying the record of 597 set by Brian Williams (1985-87).