Storm wins overtime thriller

Jason Malloy
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Published on August 28, 2013

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Published on January 16, 2015

Island Storm guard Nick Okorie look to make a pass while Windsor Express point guard Tony Bennett guards him during a National Basketball League of Canada game at the EastLink Centre Friday night.

Published on January 16, 2015

Island Storm guard Nick Okorie leaps past Windsor Express forward Chris Commons during a National Basketball League of Canada game at the EastLink Centre Friday night.

Published on January 16, 2015

Island Storm guard Rashad Whack attempts to stop Windsor Express point guard Gary Gibson during a National Basketball League of Canada game at the EastLink Centre Friday night.

Published on January 16, 2015

Windsor Express center DeAndre Thomas tries to stop Island Storm forward Billy Rush during a National Basketball League of Canada game at the EastLink Centre Friday night.

Published on January 16, 2015

Island Storm power forward Mike Martin lines up a shot past Windsor Express forward Kevin Loiselle during a National Basketball League of Canada game at the EastLink Centre Friday night.

Robinson leads Island squad to top spot in league with late-game shots

Brandon Robinson hit four free throws in the final 13 seconds of overtime Friday as the Island Storm defeated the Windsor Express 111-108.

The Storm takes over sole possession of first place in the National Basketball League of Canada with the victory at a boisterous Eastlink Centre in a rematch of last year's final.

"No pressure," Robinson said. "Like coach says, 'Big time players make big time plays.' Just another free throw to me, that's how you have to approach it."

Robinson was big for the Storm down the stretch and finished with a game-high 34 points.

"As a leader, I felt, like you can't be the one not to make your free-throws down the stretch," he said.

The Storm led 34-29 after the first quarter and 54-48 at the half. It increased the lead to double-digits in the second half, but was outscored 27-20 in the final frame.

With three seconds left Nick Okorie was fouled by Deandre Thomas.

As Okorie waited to attempt his foul shots, Express' forward Kevin Loiselle started talking to him.

"He was just trying to get in my head," Okorie said.

Most of the fans expected the game was going to be over, but Okorie was unable to sink either free throw and the game went to overtime.

"I've never missed two free throws in a row like that," said Okorie.

He wasn't the only one to miss a chance to ice the game from the stripe late.

Storm coach Joe Salerno called them "uncharacteristic" misses.

"We're going to make those shots. Nick Okorie is going to make those shots 95 per cent of the time," he said.

Salerno was more concerned with the execution down the stretch and players not being as patient as they could have been.

"We'll absolutely learn from how we finished this game and when you can learn something and get a win it's a win-win situation," he said.

Nick Evans shadowed Thomas all night. Thomas went to the bench Evans followed shortly after. Thomas, public enemy No. 1 at the Eastlink Centre on Friday, gets ready to check in, Evans sprints to the table.

"That's as good of a job I've seen anyone do on Deandre as far as one on one," Salerno said.

Thomas finished with 18 points and six rebounds while Evans had 17 and 12.

The Storm is now 15-6 while the Express is 13-6.

"It's a good feeling to come all the way back from 1-4 to be No. 1 in this league right now," Salerno said.

The Storm doesn't have long to think about it. They play in Halifax Sunday at 2 p.m.

Is there a possibility of a letdown for the Storm after Friday's emotional win?

"I hope not," Salerno said. "We fought really hard to get where we are."

He said the team's goal was to get the No.1 seed and home-court throughout the playoffs.

"We have it now, we don't want to let it go. We'll be dialed in for Sunday," he said.

Okorie said it was character win.

"We didn't have games like that last year," he said. "This shows the character of our team."

Notes:

It was the Storm's eight-straight victory. It dates back to Boxing Day when Salerno wore a bow tie. He has continued to wear one each game since.

 

The Storm has played three overtime games this season, and won each one of them.

 

Former Storm point guard Adrian Moss was released Friday by the London Lightning.

Highlight reel

Score

Express - 108

Storm - 111

By the quarter

Express -         29       19       27       27       6

Storm -           34       20       28       20       9

Leading scorers

Express - Tony Bennett 30, Quinnel Brown 26 and Deandre Thomas 18.

Storm - Brandon Robinson 34, Mike Martin 20 and Nick Evans 17.

Top rebounders

Express - Quinnel Brown 12 and Chris Commons 10.

Storm - Nick Evans 12 and Billy Rush 8.

Assist leaders

Express - Gary Gibson 6.

Storm - Sammy Zeglinski 9.

Field-goal percentages

Express - 44.3 (43-for-97).

Storm - 42.4 (36-for-85).

Three-point percentages

Express - 26.9 (7-for-26).

Storm - 34.8 (8-for-23).

Free-throw percentages

Express - 62.5 (15-for-24).

Storm - 64.6 (31-for-48).

Attendance - 1,802.

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