By Thomas Becker
Photo Janessa Hogan
The Panthers' rally fell short as the Memorial Sea-Hawks scraped by with a 47-45 win Sunday afternoon.
After taking their first lead in the opening minutes of the fourth, the Panthers looked poised for a comeback win, but poor execution down the stretch led to the unfortunate result.
"This one hurts," said Panthers head coach Greg Gould. "It's about execution and it's about the little things and we did neither."
While the team is young and still learning each other's strengths and weaknesses, Gould didn't use it as an excuse.
"It's a case of a young team not doing what they're asked to do," he said. "If they execute our game plan and lose, I'll take full responsibility. But that's hard when they don't execute what you ask them to do."
Both teams struggled from the field from the opening tip, as the Sea-Hawks (3-5) scored the game's first field goal 3:22 in.
Sydney Stewart was active on the defensive end, intercepting a pair of ill-advised passes leading to four fast-break points for the Sea-Hawks, who jumped to a 9-2 lead.
Memorial closed the quarter on an 8-2 run and took a 17-7 lead into the second, with Stewart leading the way with nine points on 4-of-7 shooting.
Stewart was the only Sea-Hawk to finish in double figures, scoring 15 points with seven steals and six rebounds.
Unsatisfied with their first quarter performance, the Panthers (3-5) began the second with an 8-2 run, capped off by a Kiera Rigby corner trey that trimmed the deficit to 19-15.
UPEI's momentum carried throughout the remainder of the quarter as they outscored their opponent 16-10, but still trailed 27-23 at halftime.
Carolina Del Santo carried the Panthers on her back, scoring 10 of her 12 first-half points in the second. Del Santo recorded a monster double-double with 14 points and 18 rebounds.
The Sea-Hawks bench was effective, totaling 17 points compared to the Panthers' five. But it was their 13 first-half points that helped Memorial to a four-point edge.
"We're deeper than a lot of teams," said Memorial head coach Mark Englius. "I think our starters are pretty good, but our bench gave us a lift today."
Both offences slumped in the third quarter, scoring just nine points apiece as Memorial maintained their four-point advantage, 36-32.
After a difficult third quarter, Jenna Mae Ellsworth and Karla Yepez led a Panthers charge that resulted in three consecutive baskets, giving UPEI their first lead of the game 38-36.
The Sea-Hawks answered with a 4-1 run to retake the lead 40-39, but UPEI responded with back-to-back layups by Victoria Barbour and Ellsworth to make it 43-40 for the home squad.
Late in the game, Memorial made a conscious effort to run their offence from the inside out and it paid off.
"The girls did a good job at taking it down low at the end of the game," Englius said. "It was pretty big to get out of here with a win today."
The teams continued to go at each other, as there were six lead changes in the fourth quarter with Memorial coming out on top 47-45.
The Panthers return to the court on Jan. 7 when they take on the Dalhousie Tigers. Game time is 6 p.m.