(ST. LOUIS, MO) There were plenty of achievements recorded in the St. Louis Surge’s 103-88 victory over the Nebraska Strikers Saturday night.
To start, the home-opening crowd of 1,900 witnessed the women’s professional basketball franchise net its thirteenth straight victory at UMSL’s Mark Twain Building.
Next, the 25-point triumph pushed the Surge’s current undefeated streak to four games, boost the squad’s record to 5-1 overall and claim sole possession of the lead in Women’s Blue Chip Basketball League (WBCBL) Midwest Division standings.
Most importantly, St. Louis delivered payback on the scrappy opponent that handed them its lone setback five weeks ago.
“We were actually looking for revenge since we lost to them earlier this year,” said Surge forward Jaleesa Butler after the game. “We just came out and played our game tonight and I’m very proud of what we did.”
The Surge launched a 6-0 sprint out of the gates via a pair of early three-foot jumpers from Michala Johnson combined with Shanity James’ lay-up with 8:05 left in the first quarter. Nebraska sliced the margin in half with Vonnee Turner’s three-pointer five seconds later.
Back-to-back buckets from James and Johnson pushed the Surge’s lead to 10-3 at the 6:52 mark and Harris pumped a three-pointer thirty seconds that widened the score to 13-5.
The Strikers then produced a mind-melting, 17-2 rally over the next five minutes where all points were collected by Michala Houser. In the process, the guard recorded four consecutive three pointers and went five-of-six from the charity stripe. When the dust had settled with 2:25 left in the quarter, Nebraska possessed a 22-15 lead.
St. Louis finished the frame with a 9-3 boost, highlighted by Rebecca Harris’ trey with thirty seconds left, and the squad narrowed the score to 25-24 at the end of the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Nebraska’s Sylvia Gatson hit a jumper to push her team’s lead to three but Harris responded with a shot-clock, buzzer-beating three-pointer that tied the score 27-27 with 9:22 left. The Surge regained the lead with Raven Berry’s two-foot hook shot that gave the hostesses a 29-27 edge but Gatson responded with a ten-foot jumper that tied the score 29-29 with 7:25 left in the half.
Harris connected with her third three-pointer of the half one minute later and St. Louis sported a 32-29 edge. Butler later added a lay-in at 6:15 that pushed the Surge’s lead to 34-29.
As the quarter progressed, the locals churned a 17-4 streak over the next four minutes that widened the differential. Stubborn defensive schematics that were complimented by Leah Cotton, Denisha Womack, Tori Waldner, Cassie Rochel, Bianca Beck, Brittany Wilson and Jenny Rocha contributed to the Surge’s 51-33 lead following Butler’s three-pointer made with 2:15 left in the half.
Nebraska utilized a pair of three-pointers, and an 8-1 late-frame finish, that narrowed the Surge’s lead to 52-41 at intermission.
St. Louis maintained its double-digit lead in the front half of the third quarter with back-to-back lay-ups from James and Waldner that propelled a 10-4 run and pushed the Surge’s lead to 62-45 at the 5:25 mark.
After the Strikers converted a pair of free throws, the locals posted five straight with another three-pointer from Harris and James’ offensive rebound put back with 4:20 left that resulted in a 67-47 lead for the Surge.
Aided by a trio of three-pointers, Nebraska narrowed the score to 71-60 with under a minute left in the quarter. The Surge answered with six points straight as Berry completed a three-point rotation off of a foul and Womack hit a trey with five seconds left that pushed St. Louis’ lead to 77-60 heading into the final frame.
As the Strikers attempted to narrow the score in the fourth quarter, the Surge made pivotal buckets and free throws to keep them at bay. Wilson’s three-pointer made with 6:25 left helped St. Louis maintain an 84-70 lead.
Down the stretch, the Surge staved any attempted comeback and with Cotton’s three-pointer with one minute left, the Surge’s pushed its home opener output above triple-digits, 101-85.
St. Louis outscored the Strikers in the second half, 51-47, and collected the 103-88 triumph that extended the team’s WBCBL winning streak to four games. Harris topped Surge scoring with 27 points.
“I think we were more aggressive in the second half,” said James, who finished with 16 points. “I think that’s what helped us grab this game.”
Nebraska (3-2) was paced in scoring by Houser’s 30 points.
The Surge returns to action Saturday night at UMSL’s Mark Twain Building to face Iowa Force (2-3). Tipoff is at 7:05 pm. For more information, go to stlsurgebasketball.com.
ST. LOUIS SURGE (103): Rebecca Harris 27, Shanity James 16, Michala Johnson 15, Jaleesa Butler 11, Leah Cotton 10, Denisha Womack 8, Raven Berry 5, Brittany Wilson 5, Tori Waldner 4, Bianca Beck 2.