By Thomas Becker
Photo Janessa Hogan
The gritty Dalhousie Tigers came away with a 90-86 win over the Panthers Saturday night in a rematch of last year's Atlantic University Sport (AUS) final.
UPEI made things interesting late, but Dalhousie had firm control of the game from the second quarter on.
The Tigers scored a total of 60 points in the second and third quarters (30 in each), while shooting a red-hot 63.2 per cent from the field. Sven Stammberger had a team-high 19 points while Ritchie Kanza Mata and Ryall Stroud contributed with 18 apiece.
"They played better than we did," said head coach Tim Kendrick. "We didn't do the things necessary to stay in the game."
With the crowd roaring and ready to go, the Panthers (2-7) started out strong as they opened the game on a 7-3 run.
But the defensive-minded Tigers (6-2) held UPEI scoreless for the ensuing five minutes, where they jumped ahead 10-7.
Lorenzo Parker's return to the lineup was a welcomed addition as he and Milorad Sedlarevic recaptured the lead for the Panthers. Sedlarevic was the catalyst in quarter, scoring six to lead all scorers. Dut Dut delivered a buzzer-beating corner triple to push their lead to 18-13 after one.
UPEI opened the second by extending the lead to as many as seven – but once again, the hard-nosed Tigers fought their way back to tie the game at 22.
Dalhousie continued to make things difficult for the Panther offence as they limited them to just 31.6 per cent from the field while taking a 34-32 advantage.
The Panthers would regain the lead on a big three-point play by Jake Kendrick, but three consecutive triples by the Tigers quickly put them on top 43-35 at the half.
"We broke down a little bit defensively and left two guys wide open," Kendrick said. "That hurt us."
Dalhousie finished the 30-point quarter shooting a blistering 57.1 per cent. Stammberger scored 11 first half points, while Jarred Reid added eight.
Sedlarevic's hot hand went cold as he was held to just two points in the quarter, yet still led the team with eight at the half. He finished with a game-high 21 in the loss.
Both teams traded baskets to begin the third quarter, but that didn't last as the defensively-sound Tigers pushed their lead to 13 with less than five minutes remaining.
The Panthers struggled to contain the Tiger's well-executed game plan, as Dalhousie quickly extended the lead to 62-43, forcing UPEI to regroup with a timeout.
The breather did little to help as they gave up another 30-point quarter and trailed Dalhousie 73-53 after three quarters of play.
Despite the big lead, the Tigers let up just enough to make things uncomfortable, with the Panthers outscoring them 33-17 in the fourth. But time wasn't on their side and Dalhousie took the game 90-86.
The Panthers aim to get back in the win column when they visit the Cape Breton Capers on Jan. 13 at 8 p.m.