By Thomas Becker
Photo Janessa Hogan
Kiera Rigby single-handedly outscored the entire Huskies squad in the second half of Saturday night's tilt, as the Panthers rallied for a 59-57 win.
The fourth-year forward scored 18 of her 26 points in the second half, eclipsing Saint Mary's 16. This is the second consecutive game where Rigby took control in the third quarter and led her team to victory.
"We were down big at halftime and that was motivation to get better," said Rigby, whose team improved to 6-7. "It may have been a sloppy game, but it felt so good to get the win."
After a series of turnovers to begin the game, Huskies guard Angelina Carvery settled her team down and led a 7-0 charge with five points for the early advantage.
Down five, Jenna Mae Ellsworth went coast to coast for the hoop and the harm. Jane McLaughlin then capped off the 5-0 spurt with a baseline jumper to tie the game at nine apiece. Ellsworth filled the stat sheet, recording 13 points, seven boards, four steals while handing out five assists.
With only two minutes remaining, the Huskies' offence came to life and finished the opening quarter on an 11-0 run. Courtney Cain-Nordin scored five points off the bench as Saint Mary's took a 20-10 lead into the second. She finished with 12 points on 4-of-8 shooting.
Ellsworth got hot from deep in the early moments of the second and pulled her team within five with two consecutive three-pointers. But the Huskies, who dropped to 11-4, were equally efficient and responded with back-to-back triples from Cain-Nordin and Jenny Lewis to restore their double-digit lead, 33-22.
At the midway point, Kennisha-Shanice Luberisse took over and pushed the lead to 15 on back-to-back layups. The Panthers were able to trim it to as few as eight, but Saint Mary's still held a 41-29 lead at halftime.
In her second consecutive game, Rigby caught fire in the third quarter. The fourth-year forward scored nine of the Panthers' first 13 points, closing the gap to five, 47-42.
UPEI's smothering defence held Saint Mary's to just nine points on a miniscule 11.8 per cent shooting, but the Huskies continued to lead 50-44 after three.
"We defended when we needed to," said Panthers head coach Greg Gould. "We know they shoot the three well, but they also have to have open looks to be effective and I thought we contested well."
After a three-minute rest, Rigby re-entered the game and promptly drained a three. Kimesha Henry followed that up with a layup, cutting the deficit to one with 6:04 remaining.
The Huskies' poor shooting continued, as the Panthers held them to just seven points in the fourth quarter. Following a pair of made free throws to tie the game, Rigby continued her strong second half and propelled her team to a 55-51 edge with a mid-range jumper.
Saint Mary's quickly responded with a Lewis corner triple, but Rigby couldn't be stopped, responding with the driving basket.
Lubrisee gathered a weak-side rebound off Lewis' missed shot and was rewarded with two free throws, tying the game 54 all.
With 20 seconds remaining, Carolina Del Santo drove baseline and found a wide-open Jane McLaughlin who drained the go-ahead basket for the 59-57 final.
The Panthers look for their third consecutive win on Feb. 3 when they take on the UNB Varsity Reds. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m.