By Thomas Becker
Photo Janessa Hogan
After a subpar first half, the UPEI Panthers erupted for a 35-point third quarter en route to a 79-65 win over the first place Memorial Sea-Hawks.
Forward Milorad Sedlarevic was the catalyst in the quarter, putting up 12 points and seven rebounds to lead the Panthers.
"Our season was on the line," said Sedlarevic, who finished with a game-high 23 points. "We executed much better in the second half, both offensively and defensively."
UPEI held the Sea-Hawks to just 14 points in the pivotal quarter.
"Offensively, we're a great scoring team. All we need to do is play more consistently on defence," Sedlarevic said.
For head coach Tim Kendrick the win couldn't have come at a better time. "It's a huge win for us and we needed it," said Kendrick, whose team improved to 2-6. "We had a good halftime talk and we played the second half the way we're capable of."
Looking to complete the sweep, Memorial opened the first quarter on a 7-0 run, forcing the Panthers to call a timeout.
Memorial pushed the lead to 12-4 before Sedlarevic and Samy Mohamed drained back-to-back triples to pull within three, 13-10.
Both teams traded baskets for the remainder of the quarter where the Sea-Hawks took a 21-16 advantage.
The Panthers struggled from the field throughout the frame, shooting a disappointing 18.5 per cent.
Daniel Gordon and Davion Parnsalu combined for 14 points to lead the Sea-Hawks. Parnsalu finished with a team-high 17 points.
The Panthers settled down in the first few minutes of the second with Tyler Scott leading the charge, scoring four points to cut the deficit to 23-22. But Memorial responded with nine unanswered points, extending their lead 32-22.
UPEI went deep into their bench to find a spark, but it didn't happen as the offence sputtered for 31 first-half points. Yet they were able to keep the game close with their defence, scoring 14 points off 11 Memorial turnovers. However, the Sea-Hawks still took a 39-31 lead at halftime.
Turnovers were a problem for Memorial as they coughed up the ball 21 times leading to 22 points for UPEI.
The Panthers tied the game at 39 with an 8-0 run to begin the third. Scott followed that up with a pair of free throws, giving UPEI their first lead. Their third quarter dominance continued as they exploded for 35 points, surpassing their first-half point total.
Sedlarevic and Scott shared the scoring load, recording 12 and nine points, respectively. Scott finished with 23 points, eight rebounds and six assists.
The Panthers defence was also impressive, limiting the Sea-Hawks to just 14 points, as they carried a 66-53 lead into the fourth for a 21-point turnaround.
Unlike Saturday's come-from-behind win, the Sea-Hawks were unable to rally from Sunday's third-quarter deficit, falling to UPEI 79-65.
The Panthers will hit the court again on Jan. 7 when they take on the Dalhousie Tigers in a rematch of last season's Atlantic University Sport (AUS) finals. Game time is 8 p.m.