By Thomas Becker
Photo Janessa Hogan
The Saint Mary's Huskies boasted a balanced attack Saturday night, with five players scoring in double figures en route to a 105-98 win.
MVP candidate Marquis Clayton continued his impressive season, leading the Huskies with 26 points, including shooting a perfect 14-of-14 from the charity strike, and seven rebounds.
"This is my last year and I can't hold back," said Clayton, whose team improved to 10-5 and now sits in first place with UNB. "This was an important win. We needed these two road games to keep pace in the standings."
The game didn't reflect the final score, as the Huskies had firm control of the game from the second quarter on.
"I thought we were solid for 37 minutes," said Huskies head coach Jonah Taussig. "At the end, we were just fouling and losing our cool and Tyler (Scott) started to hit some ridiculous shots to get it closer than it needed to be."
Kemar Alleyne got things going early for the Huskies, scoring five quick points for the early 10-2 advantage.
A Jake Kendrick three-pointer seemed to spark the home team as Scott scored the next seven points for the Panthers (4-9), who trimmed the deficit to three, 18-15.
Theon Reefer responded with five unanswered points for Saint Mary's, but the Panthers kept battling and cut it back to three before Reefer closed the quarter with an elbow jumper for the 25-20 lead.
Reefer scored 11 of his 16 points in the first, while Scott added nine for the Panthers.
Early in the second, Saint Mary's extended their lead to 11 on back-to-back threes by Alleyne and Kordeiro James. James continued shooting with confidence, scoring all eight of his first-half points (on 3-of-3 shooting) in the first four minutes of the quarter, as the Huskies took control 41-25. James recorded 15 points off the bench, while Alleyne dropped 15 of his own with seven dimes.
Scott recorded his 1,500th career point in the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) with a jumper at the midway point. He finished with a game-high 38 points in the loss.
Shavon Gayle then capped off a 13-9 run with four consecutive points for UPEI, who trailed 50-38 at halftime.
Saint Mary's Achuil Lual scored all 12 of his points in the first half, leading the team at halftime.
Both teams traded baskets to begin the third. On a beautiful inbound play, Scott found a cutting Lorenzo Parker, who finished the layup, cutting it to 56-49.
That's when Clayton took over. He outscored the Panthers 8-3 over the next two minutes and extended the Huskies' lead 64-52. They took a 15-point advantage into the fourth.
The Huskies pushed the lead to 20 before the Panthers put on the full-court press to disrupt their opponent. They were able to cut it to as few as five, but the large deficit was too much to overcome as Saint Mary's came away with the 105-98 win.
The Panthers aim to get back in the win column on Feb. 3 when they welcome the UNB Varsity Reds to town. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m.