RECAP: London Lightning Bounce Back After Loss with 104-92 Win over Saint John Mill Rats

Warren Ward led the way for the London Lightning on Thursday night, recording 23 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists as the Lightning bounced back from a loss the night prior with a 104-92 win over the Saint John Mill Rats. (Source: Stu Switzer)
Warren Ward led the way for the London Lightning on Thursday night, recording 24 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists as the Lightning bounced back from a loss the night prior with a 104-92 win over the Saint John Mill Rats. (Source: Stu Switzer)

In today’s world, all good things come to an end at some point, and the London Lightning found that out on Thursday night.

The Lightning put their nine-game winning streak on the line when they went on the road to take on the Windsor Express in the Clash at the Colosseum at Caesars Windsor. London hadn’t lost in a month, but the Express came out and outplayed from the Lightning from start to finish. Windsor came away with the convincing 114-93 victory.

Just a day later, the Lightning were back in action on their home floor on Thursday night. How they bounced back from the loss would be a good indicator of what the season could bring for the Lightning.

It was their first meeting with the Saint John Mill Rats, and an old friend did everything he could to lead the Mill Rats to the victory.

Former Lightning star Gabe Freeman recorded a double-double of 23 points and 10 rebounds before fouling out in the closing minutes, but the Lightning wouldn’t fall on back-to-back nights.

Both teams started slow, but London pulled away in the second quarter and never looked back, cruising to the 104-92 victory.

In the opening minutes, Freeman was doing his best to put the Mill Rats ahead of the Lightning. He scored Saint John’s first 7 points of the game, and staked the Mill Rats to an early 7-2 lead.

While Freeman was hot out of the gate, it took the rest of his team a little longer to get into the flow of the game. That allowed London to get back into the game. Warren Ward got a steal on defense, and went down for the two-handed flush in transition to push London to a 11-9 lead.

Freeman would lead the Mill Rats back shortly thereafter, as his jumper gave Saint John a 3 point lead, then Corey Allmond hit a floater in the lane to push the lead to 17-12.

Stephen Maxwell would then start to make his presence felt on the offensive glass. He secured offensive rebounds on back-to-back possessions, finishing off glass both times, and scoring 6 straight points overall to put London back ahead.

They would take a 23-20 lead into the break.

Ryan Anderson would open the second quarter with some strong shooting, hitting a pair of early three balls to push London’s lead to 29-25. Ward would later connect on a three of his own, but the Mill Rats would score 5 straight to tie the game at 32-all.

Freeman went to the bench midway through the half with 3 fouls, and the Lightning started to take advantage. Akeem Wright hit a pair of free throws to kick-start a 21-7 run for the Lightning to close out the first half.

The foul count was a bit skewed in the quarter, as the Mill Rats had 7 compared to London’s 2 late in the quarter. The Mill Rats were not too happy with the calls, and London took full advantage from the free throw line. They were able to be a little more aggressive on offense, and it paid off.

Ward hit yet another three pointer in the closing seconds of the half, and London held a commanding 53-39 lead at half time.

The third quarter opened with the Lightning building on their halftime lead, and it was Ward who continued to do the damage from long distance. He connected on yet another three pointer, and the lead was 57-39.

Things started to get a little feisty between Freeman and London’s Kevin Loiselle. After Freeman was fouled in the lane by Loiselle, they had some words for each other before Freeman’s free throws.

An 11-5 run from the Mill Rats cut the deficit to 12 with plenty of time left on the clock, as they trailed 62-50. Ricky Volcy hit a three of his own shortly after London ended the Mill Rats’ run, and the deficit was down to just 10.

Back-and-forth the teams would go over the next few minutes. Chad Posthumus started to make his presence felt in the post, but the Mill Rats had an answer on offense.

London went over the foul limit with 4 minutes to play in the quarter, and the Mill Rats used free throws to cut the deficit down to 70-64. Anderson hit a pair of three pointers in the closing minutes to help push London’s lead back to 80-71 before the quarter was out.

Maxwell opened the final frame with a layup, then Wright got up for an alley-oop slam on a dish from Nick OkorieAnthony Anderson responded with a three-point play for Saint John on a second-chance opportunity to bring the Mill Rats to within 84-74.

The Mill Rats would continue to chip away in the final quarter, trying desperately to eliminate the Lightning’s lead. Doug Herring, Jr. hit a three to cut the deficit to 8, then Allmond hit a three of his own shortly thereafter to trim the lead to 7.

That was as close as they would get, as London got going again on offense and started to pull away.

Anderson fouled out for the Lightning, and Garrius Holloman hit three free throws to cut the deficit to 8. Tyshawn Patterson answered with a three pointer with a hand in his face, and the lead was back to 11.

Freeman fouled out with 2:09 to play in the game. Despite booing him when he had the ball during the game, the fans showed some great appreciation for their former star with a nice ovation as he walked off the floor.

Posthumus closed out the game with three straight layups for the Lightning, pushing them over the 100-point mark and sealing the deal.

London bounced back from their loss against Windsor with a convincing 104-92 win over the Saint John Mill Rats.

Despite the loss, Gabe Freeman put together a strong performance in his return to London. He scored a team-high 23 points to go along with 10 rebounds and 4 steals. Ricky Volcy also recorded a double-double of 12 points and 12 rebounds on the night.

Corey Allmond and Anthony Anderson each chipped in with 15 points.

For the Lightning, it was London, ON native Warren Ward leading the way. He scored a game-high 24 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists in the victory. Ward finished the game 5-of-10 from three point range.

Stephen Maxwell recorded another double-double, scoring 23 points and pulling down 18 rebounds in the win. Ryan Anderson added 12 points (4-of-5 from three) and 5 rebounds before fouling out.

Looking Ahead

With the win, the London Lightning improve their record to a league-best 13-3. They showed that they are more than capable of bouncing back after a tough loss, and look to be the team to beat in the NBL Canada this season. The Lightning return to the court on Saturday night when they welcome the Windsor Express to town on Libro Kid’s Day inside the Budweiser Gardens.

NOTE: The London Lightning released forward Curtis Washington on February 3rd. The former Georgia State big man appeared in 9 games this season for the Lightning.

– T.B.