A very anticipated matchup between the top two teams in the Women’s division saw King’s Christian Collegiate visiting Durham Elite in a battle for the top spot in the OSBA. King’s Christian has won 4 straight games coming into the matchup and beat Durham when they first saw each other. Durham Elite however has won 4 of their last 5 games and have very few games left to make a case for the top spot.
King’s Christian came out of the gates with excellent long range shooting and were a presence on the glass. Their up-tempo style of play wasn’t foreign to Durham however as they also pushed the ball in transition at every available opportunity and found success beyond the arc. King’s Christian had the height advantage over their opponents and didn’t hesitate to take advantage with Laeticia Amihere (20 points) and Christina Morra (18 points) being focal points of the offense. They managed to create a 5-point lead but Durham’s Shaina Pellington (26 points) orchestrated the Durham offense back to a closer game. Despite forcing a few turnovers, Durham still struggled to slow the King’s offense and they trailed 15-21 to end the 1st quarter.
The 2nd quarter saw Durham quickly close the gap down to 19-21 before King’s Christian got their offense going. Morra and Amihere continued to be focal points in the King’s offense and caused problems for the Durham defense. With their ability to often grab their own rebounds and create second chance points, they seldom finished possessions without multiple shots at the basket. Mid-way through the quarter the excellent interior play by Amihere along with timely 3-point shooting was too much to handle for the smaller Durham defenders and King’s Christian held a commanding 37-22 lead. Pellington continued her leadership of the Durham offense and although there would be valuable contributions from Daija Moses, they were still outscored by 9 points in the frame.
Despite starting second half with a strong 43-28 advantage, King’s Christian would still have to keep the Durham offense under control if they wanted to finish the game with a victory. That task was much easier said than done with Durham opening the second half on a 7-0 run in 45 seconds. Their defensive intensity frustrated the King’s players and they struggled to score with the same ease as they did earlier in the game. Their offense grinded to a halt, not scoring a single basket until past the half way mark of the 3rd, and the Durham offense exploded to a 17-0 run that catapulted them into the lead, 45-43. Shaina Pellington was remarkable in the quarter being responsible for virtually every point in the frame with her scoring, forced turnovers and ball movement. The run would mercifully come to a halt behind a 3-pointer by Tiena Neale and the King’s reclaimed their lead behind her shot. From that point the momentum that heavily favored Durham, shifted in favor of King’s Christian with Amihere leading the charge.
Although they lost their lead a few minutes prior, King’s Christian made a push towards the end of the 3rd quarter to lead by 54-47 at the end of the frame. After such an intense quarter the teams had trouble getting their offenses going but put all their effort in their hustle for the ball. Durham turned their defense up another notch with full court pressure but found themselves exposed for a few transition scores. When they did succeed in forcing turnovers however, they capitalized on opportunities and cut the deficit to as little as 5 points within the final 4 minutes. King’s Christian lead by as much as 9 points in the final 4 minutes and both sides would trade 3-point shots right down to the final minute. Great shooting by Keishana Washington (14 points) was a crucial factor in Durham’s late 8-3 run but without enough time left on the clock, King’s Christian finished with the 70-66 victory.
King’s Christian Collegiate have been back on a roll and their 2nd victory over Durham Elite keeps them in the top spot in the standings with room to spare. Stringing together 5 consecutive victories for the 2nd time this season, they’ll look to extend the streak at home against TRC Academy on March 1st (tip-off at 5pm). Despite the loss, Durham Elite holds onto their spot in the standings but hope to finish their final two games of the season with 2 wins in order to maintain their position. The next matchup comes against Bill Crothers on March 1st (tip-off at 5pm).