In a preview of next week’s GWBA Championship semi-final, the Surge headed to Flint for their regular season finale against the Flint Monarchs. It was a back-and-forth affair, but the Surge ultimately came up short, falling 94-79 and dropping their regular season record to 4-4.
Points were hard for the Surge to come by early as the Monarchs tight defense forced the visiting Surge to work late into the shot clock consistently. Eventually, Kristi Bellock broke through, landing the Surge their first points on a pick-and-pop jumper off the feed from Rebecca Harris. Harris, the team’s leader in assists for the season, shined as a playmaker early, picking up 3 assists in the game’s first 5 minutes. It wasn’t until just 1:26 remained on the clock in the first period that Nici Gilday, coming off consecutive 20-point outings, got on the board, bringing the score to 15-14 Monarchs with an and-one. Yet, the Monarchs finished the quarter strongly, building to a 21-14 advantage.
The start of the second quarter was all Monarchs. The home team scored the quarter’s first 7 points in under a minute, bringing their run to 13-0 and advantage for the game to 28-14. After a Surge timeout, Bellock finally brought the run to an end with a putback off her own miss. The Surge began to slowly chip away at the Flint lead, cutting the deficit to 6 with 4:18 remaining on a transition layup from Gilday. The Monarchs slowed the Surge comeback a bit, extending their advantage back to 9, but a Harris trip to the line with 0:02 to go in the half brought the score to 44-37 Flint, where it remained when the halftime buzzer sounded.
Like in the first half, Bellock opened the scoring for the Surge with a layup. Nakiah Bell, who started the second half in place of Jaleesa Butler, hit a couple quick threes in the first three and a half minutes of the quarter, helping the Surge to cut their deficit to 1 at 48-47. The Monarchs quickly punched back, though, and by the end of the quarter, had actually extended their advantage to 11 at 65-54.
Clearly, the pressure wasn’t lost on the Surge at the open of the final quarter, as they quickly came out and cut the Flint lead to 71-65 following a post bucket from Harris, which forced a Flint timeout with 7:00 to go. The Surge kept pushing, and another Bell 3 forced another Flint timeout with 5:38 to go, and the home team’s lead d0wn to just 3. Out of the timeout, the Surge managed a stop and a Bellock mid-ranger brought the score just shy of even at 71-70. The Monarchs’ dormancy was short-lived, however, as they strung together some runouts and putbacks for a quick 8-0 run to establish a 79-70 lead with 3:40 to go. The Monarch lead kept growing and growing, and when it was all said and done, a 23-9 run to close the game resulted in a 94-79 loss for the Surge.
The loss capped off what’s been a trying regular season for the Surge. After years of dominance in the WBCBL, the Surge’s first season in the GWBA has offered a new level of competition. St. Louis is still a very competitive group, but the days of cruising to 40, 50, 60 point wins are long gone. In this Flint team, the Surge have a very worthy rival that’s now split the two regular season meetings they’ve had. In the GLO, the Surge have an evil empire they can aspire to topple, but have never come closer than 14 points (the closest anyone’s come this season) in three regular season meetings.
Big home wins against Flint, the Music City Icons, and Chicago Breeze along with a resounding victory at Music City have lifted the Surge to a respectable 4-4 regular season performance. But for the two-time National Champion Surge, good has never been enough, and the team must elevate its level of play if its to call itself a three-time National Champion just over a week from now.
With the regular season officially in the books, the GWBA playoff seeding is set. The undefeated GLO will host the winless Icons next Saturday, while the Surge will have a rematch with the Monarchs tipping off at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, August 10th. Should the Surge win, they’ll advance to the GWBA Championship game on Sunday, August 11th at 3:00 p.m. against the winner of GLO-Icons. To follow along with the out-of-town action live, you can stream the game here. Follow the Surge on Twitter and Instagram for live highlights and updates.