By Thomas Becker
To complete the weekend sweep, the Panthers needed a lift from their bench. And they got it, as they outscored the opponent's bench 39-29 en route to a 77-71 win over the Cape Breton Capers.
Led by D'Adrian Allen's team-high 12 points and timely long distance shooting from Logan MacDonald (11 points on a perfect 4-of-4 afternoon) and Bryce Corless, the unit combined to shoot an efficient 61 per cent from the field (including 8-of-14 from three).
"They came in and gave us a big lift," said head coach Darrell Glenn. "I give Logan a lot of credit. He hasn't really played a lot this season and for him to come into a game like this and give us a lift with his shooting, his defence and his rebounding is really a credit to him and his character."
In his fifth consecutive start, Stefan Vujisic was a beast in the middle with seven early points to open up a 12-7 advantage for the Panthers (2-12). The two opponents traded baskets for the remainder of the quarter where UPEI led 21-16.
After quickly extending the lead to 10, the Panthers' offence went cold allowing the Capers (2-12) to tie it at 28 apiece. But a timeout settled them down, as they took a slim 34-32 advantage into halftime.
It was a balanced attack for both teams in the opening half. Vujsiic scored nine in just five minutes, while Paul Watson had eight for Cape Breton.
The Panthers found their rhythm in the opening minutes of the third and put together an 11-5 run, capped off by a Corless triple to go up 45-37.
They continued to shoot with confidence in the quarter where they were 66.7 per cent from the field, on their way to a 23-point frame and a 57-47 lead. Corless led the way with seven of his 10 points.
"They (Cape Breton) bring a lot of energy from the bench. What I had to do was match that energy – get the guys jumping, get the guys amped – and once we had more energy then them, we thrived," Corless said.
Looking to avoid the sweep, the Capers trimmed the deficit to six on multiple occasions in the fourth quarter, but the Panthers remained poised and held on for the 77-71 win.
Although he was happy with the final outcome, Glenn was disappointed that his team let Cape Breton back in the game after coming out so strong in the second half.
"Right now, I'm just thinking about all the mistakes," he said. "It obviously feels better when you win. But I'm just disappointed in some of the things we did in the fourth quarter that put us in a close situation."
Amin Suleman and Milorad Sedlarevic each scored 10 apiece in the win, while Capers Indiana Rotondo (14), Aaron Hayles (14), Watson (12) and Osman Omar (11) each finished in double figures, but shot a combined 16-of-47 (34 per cent) to get there.
UPEI returns to action on Feb. 3 when they host the visiting Memorial Sea-Hawks. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m.
Photo Credit: Janessa Hogan