By Rob Kiser
Edison State women’s coach Tim McMahon knew his team was facing its biggest challenge so far when fellow OCCAC member Owens visited Wednesday.
And McMahon was proved correct.
While it was a tight game throughout the first half, Owens had a run to start the second half and rode that momentum to a 77-56 victory.
That leaves Sinclair atop the OCCAC at 16-2 and 6-0. Owens is 14-4 and 4-1, Edison is 16-1 and 3-1 after its first loss and Lakeland is 13-3 and 3-1.
And Edison can make it four-way deadlock with one loss when it hosts Sinclair Saturday.
“We win that game and it is right back even,” McMahon said. “Owens is going to score points. We just didn’t score enough points. We wanted to take 80 shots and we took 55. If we had taken 80 shots, we probably would have won.”
Edison got off to a quick start.
A putback by Riley Culver and a three by Jessie Crowell — off a Lauren Monnin assist — put the Chargers up 5-1.
Edison never trailed by more than five in the opening two quarters.
Two baskets by Culver tied the game at 33 and and Holly Frey hit one of two free throws with 1:43 to go in the half to put Edison up 34-33. But, it was the Chargers last lead.
Da’Vina Shelton answered with a three for Owens, before Culver hit a free throw to make the deficit 36-35 at halftime.
Essance Cowan opened the second half with a three for Owens — a trend that would continue as Owens open a 55-46 lead after three quarters and built on it in the fourth quarter.
Cowan was deadline from long range, hitting five of 12 from behind the arc, while Shleton and Dai’Shona Washington-Polk added two each.
“When we looked at them on film, they didn’t hit a lot of shots,” McMahon said. “We felt like that was the better option — because they were bigger and strong than us inside. Then, they hit 10 on us.”
Cowan finished with a game-high 24 points for Owens, while Washington-Polk had a double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds.
Shelton added 15 points and Brenda Pennington grabbed five rebounds.
Culver was eight for 13 from the floor to lead Edison with 19 points to go with three steals.
Monnin had 11 points and five assists and Clair Schmitmeyer added 11 points and four assists.
Frey led the Chargers on the boards with eight rebounds.
Edison was 21 of 55 from the floor for 38 percent, including just one of six from 3-point range for 17 percent.
The Chargers made 13 of 19 free throws for 68 percent.
Owens was 31 of 65 from the floor for 48 percent, including 10 of 28 from 3-point range for 36 percent. The Express converted just five of 12 free throws for 42 percent.
Owens won the battle of the boards 41-27 and both teams had 13 turnovers.
“I thought we handled their pressure well,” McMahon said. “Against that pressure, 13 turnovers is pretty good. If you had told me we would have 13 turnovers, I would have thought we would have won.”
They don’t have to wait long for another opportunity to do just that, hosting Sinclair at 1 p.m. Saturday.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.