By Chris Schmidbauer, Sports Information Director
Bethlehem, PA -- Freshman Moreina Moore scored the Express's first five points of the game against UConn-Avery Point and her offense helped carry Owens to a first round win in the NJCAA Division III National Tournament. Moore would finish with a game high 29 points to help Owens to a 93-79 win.
Owens and UConn-Avery Point would trade buckets over the first five minutes of the ball game. A Tori Kopp three with 4:51 left in the opening period would give the Express a 10-9 lead. Kopp's basket would spur Owens on to a 16-4 run to close the quarter, capped off by a tip in by Shyah Wheeler with fourteen seconds left in the opening frame. Owens would lead at the first quarter by a score of 23-13.
As good as the Express offense was to end the first, it was just as dormant to start the second quarter. Owens did not score a basket for the first 4:52 of the second. Luckily for Owens, their defense would pick up the slack. The Express only allowed five points to the Pointers during that early stretch of the second quarter. Moore's layup would snap the skid, and Owens would close the half on a solid run. The Express would outscore UConn-Avery Point over the remainder of the quarter, 16-5, and Owens would head to the locker room up 39-23.
The Pointers would make a run to start the third quarter, trimming the Owens lead down to 10 forcing an Express time out. Owens would pus the lead back to 14 on a pair of Shyah Wheeler free throws, and a Taylor Works three with 5:44 to go in the period would give the Express a 17 point advantage, UConn-Avery Point would not go away, however, trimming the Owens lead back to 10 with 3:58 in the third on a Julitza Delgado layup. The advantage would be 10 for the No. 3 seeded Express heading to the fourth quarter.
The Express would begin the fourth scoring the first five points of the period, and a pair of Works layups would give Owens a commanding 17 point lead again with 8:27 to play in the game. But like they did most of the evening, the Pointers would make another run. An 8-0 run by the No. 6 seed would trim the Express lead to single digits with 4:29 to play. The lead would be trimmed to just six a few moments later on a Mia Brennan three for the Pointers. The Express would answer though, pushing the lead back to 10 point on a pair of layups from Wheeler and Works. The Express would be able to finish off the game at the free throw line for the 14 point victory.
As stated earlier, Moreina Moore scored a game high 29 points, 19 of which came in the first half, to help Owens to their first round win. She would also finish with four rebounds and four assists. Taylor Works would shake off some early rust, scoring 15 of her 19 points in the second half. The sophomore also had five assists and six boards in the game.
Shyah Wheeler would post a double-double with 18 points and 13 caroms. She was also tough defensively, snagging six steals and garnering five blocks against the Pointers.
Tori Kopp was hot from three for the second straight contest too. After her 21 point MVP performance against Rock Valley, Kopp shot 4-6 from beyond the arc and finished with 14 points and seven rebounds. Her fellow Perrysburg alum continued her yeoman's work on the glass. Whitney Thames had a game high 21 rebounds, seven of which came on the offensive glass. She also had nine points.
Liliana Velazaquez finished with four points, six rebounds, and three assists off the bench for the Express.
As a team, Owens shot 46.7% (35-75) from the floor for the game, while they held the Pointers to just 33.3% (31-93) from the floor. The Express are now 24-8 overall.
The Express will play next in the semifinals tomorrow evening against North Country, who beat Passaic 92-58 in the nightcap. The Saints are 27-2 for the year.
The game is scheduled for tip off at 7 PM on Friday night from the Arthur L. Scott Center on the campus of Northampton Community College. The game can be seen via NJCAA TV, which can be accessed by clicking here.