Teamwork play in the fourth quarter of game four saved United States International University- Africa from elimination as they beat Equity Bank 56-40 to force the deciding game five on Monday night.
Coming to the game at Nyayo gymnasium, Equity led the women’s Premier League semifinal playoffs series 2-1 and a win would have sealed their qualification to their maiden final. It was the second time they surrendered the series lead after winning the first game.
The bankers dominated in the first half, held off the defending champions in third quarter before slowing down in the fourth and watched the game slip away.
Equity played without key players Hilda Indasi and Linda Mfuchi while USIU-A did not field Georgia Adhiambo.
The turning point was in the last five minutes of the fourth quarter when USIU-A opened the biggest lead in the game of 17 points leading 56-39.
Melissa Akinyi, Sarah Chan, Angela Okoth, Cynthia Irankunda and Doreen Nyaga coordinated play on the court that disoriented Equity’s game plan. But that was all due to their effort and hard work after chasing the game and struggling for the opening three quarters.
They took a 2-0 lead in first quarter but Equity leveled 2-2 and led 4-2. Captain Eleanor Musundi then scored six straight points from two free shots and two baskets as Equity went on a 9-0 scoring run to lead 14-2.
Equity won the quarter 16-9. Chan took control in second quarter scoring 13 points as USIU-A won 15-4 to lead 24-20 at halftime.
With 4:06 remaining, Chan scored a basket that gave USIU-A a 19-18 lead but Samba Mjomba replied for Equity for the lead to change hands 20-19 in the bankers’ favor. Chan sunk a free shot to tie 20-20 before adding two more free shots and a basket to give USIU-A a four-point advantage at the breather.
Samba scored eight straight points from a basket and six free shots as Equity won the third quarter 10-8 to trail USIU-A 30-32 going to the closing quarter.
Close contest in fourth quarter
The contest was very close in the quarter. Equity took the lead with 7:40 on the clock when Samba made two free shots for 26-25. Okoth then made a free shot for the students to tie 26-26 before Chan gave them the lead with a basket and held on.
With only 20 seconds played in fourth quarter, Samba made a steal off Melissa Akinyi to score a basket and tie scores 32-32.
After a similar period, Okoth gave USIU-A the lead with two free shots but Salma Akinyi made a basket with a minute played to tie 34-34. Melissa Akinyi then gave USIU-A a 36-34 lead and the students exerted pressure to open a 17-point gap that ensured they live to fight another day.
Chan, who made three crucial blocks on Salma Akinyi, Musundi and Apondi in second half, finished with a game high 26 points for USIU-A grabbing 18 rebounds, two assists, three steals and four blocked shots.
Samba scored 16 points for Equity with seven rebounds, two assists and four steals while Musundi added 12 points and grabbed seven rebounds.
Equity had on Saturday taken a 2-1 series lead after winning game three 62-57. USIU-A won the first quarter 17-8 and the second tied 13-13 for the students to lead 30-21 at halftime.
The bankers won the third and fourth quarters 21-15 and 20-12. Samba who played for the entire period had a game high of 32 points for Equity and grabbed five rebounds, five steals and an assist.
Chan also playedthe full period for USIU-A scoring 26 points, grabbed 17 rebounds, six steals and blocked three shots.
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