USIU Flames Beat Equity Hawks 57-47 in Game 5
The reigning champions USIU Flames are moving on, advancing to the Kenya Basketball Federation ladies finals with a thrilling 57-47 win over the Equity Bank Hawks in Game 5 Monday night.
This game was always going to be about weathering the storm. The game started predictably in favor of the USIU, leading 18-15 at the end of the first quarter and 33-28 at the half-time break. After the halftime break, the Hawks had the momentum and were energized in their play outscoring USIU 12-7. After that the bankers went cold.
Tied at 40-40 at the end of the third period, Cynthia Irankunda, Sarah Chan and Angela Akoth capped an amazing performance as Equity simply couldn’t push past the barrier of a “close game”. Halfway through the fourth quarter finally provided the break; some solid defense and good offensive possessions opened a 6 point lead 48-42 in favor of USIU.
The question of whether Samba Mjomba was going to be effective the rest of the way without being rested well was being answered. The last five minutes of the game was all USIU, even the final buzzer was a relief for Equity who had given their best in this series only that their best wasn’t good enough.
Cynthia was in her element, the Burundian floor general was not only spraying passes but also hitting her trade mark jumper in the paint, she scored 18 points and grabbed 6 Rebounds. Sarah added 16 points and 20 rebounds for the winners.
A visibly tired Samba led Equity her with 17 points. Salma added 12 points.
Sarah Helps Flames Fend Off Elimination With Game 4 Win
Sarah Chan saved a championship reign, canceled a celebration. The toughest part now might be topping this performance in Game 5. If the Equity Hawks want that win this series, they’ll have to fight just a little harder to get it. One last game, winner take all.
Star center Sarah powered USIU to a frantic fourth-quarter rally as the Flames beat the Hawks 56-40 on Sunday evening to extend the KBF Semi Finals as far as they can go and keep Flames repeat chances alive. She had 26 points 17 rebounds and 4 blocks.
So close to being eliminated as they trailed 16-9 to Equity, the Flames made a couple of big plays, got some defensive stops, and did everything else that makes great teams champions.
Point guard Samba Mjomba has been instrumental for the banker in this series scored 16 points for the Hawks, and got little help from her teammates. She was shut out after the third quarter, a good job by USIU forcing her to make turnovers and barely made any plays for Equity. She added 7 rebounds.
USIU had a 15-4 run in the second quarter and took control of the game, then Equity brought the game to a two point game, 30-32 but when Sarah came back in at the start of the last quarter Flames final push seemed to have them ready for game 5.
Eleanor Musundi had 12 points and 7 rebounds for the Hawks. Salma Akinyi had 8 points and 4 rebounds. Angela Okoth finished with 10 points and 4 rebounds. Melissa Akinyi scored 9 points and 5 assists.
With the series tied, 2-2. A winner-takes-all Game 5 will be at Nyayo on Monday at 7 p.m.
Samba Inspired Equity Win Game 3
It appeared the USIU Flames were entering Game 3 with all the momentum, but the Equity Bank Hawks erased that with 3 minutes of brilliant basketball in the last quarter that essentially was the key to their 62-57 victory to lead the semi-finals series 2-1.
Trailing by 13 points early in the second quarter and 9 points at half time, the Hawks figured their chances were slim with Samba Mjomba on the floor, she made sure her team was within touching distance. She played the entire game inspiring Equity with 32 points, five rebounds and five.
USIU Flames were in control of the game for 31.43 minutes leaving Equity to play catch up. Equity fortunes changed late in the last quarter buoyed by Samba, who served as the team’s catalyst all evening. Equity finished the game on a 6-0 run, by then USIU never had enough gas left to really threaten.
Linda Mfuchi had 9 points and 10 rebounds for Equity. Sarah Chan had 26 points and 17 rebounds, Melissa Akinyi scored 13 points for USIU.
The only real silver lining for the Flames is that things cannot possibly get worse. While it’s absolutely not good news that they are able to lose a game they were in control. They will return to the court for Sunday’s Game 4 with confidence that they can acquit themselves far better than they did on Saturday. Whether that’s enough to beat a great Equity team with a consistently improving star in Samba remains to be seen.