Antigonish, NS – The UPEI Panthers (11-9) came from behind to defeat the StFX X-Women (1-19) by a 66-60 score in overtime Saturday evening from the StFX Oland Centre.
After leading for the majority of the game, the X-Women let their lead slip away in the fourth quarter as the Panthers came back to tie it up at 60-60 at the end of regulation. The UPEI defense held the X-Women scoreless in the overtime period and to only eight points in the fourth quarter.
Panthers head coach Greg Gould was proud of how his team battled back, commenting, "We talk about defense all the time - defense and rebounding - and in the first half I didn't think we defended very well, we certainly didn't rebound the ball great."
"I'm really proud of how they battled the whole way, they did what they had to do. We held them to eight in the fourth quarter and the overtime period. It comes down to if you want to be a championship team you have to defend."
It was the X-Women who opened up a 20-12 lead after a fast-paced first quarter. The Panthers battled back in the second quarter and were within three points but the X-Women held onto their lead, in particular to strong outside shooting. Jessica Miller (Mount Denson, NS) sank a trio of three-point shots in the opening half for X.
The home team led 40-30 at halftime.
The Panthers started to put a dent into the X-Women lead and outscored their opponents 15-12 in the third quarter. StFX were up 52-45 after three quarters.
UPEI continued to mount their comeback early in the fourth quarter and ramped up their defense. They tied the game at 54-54 with under six minutes to play. The remainder of the quarter was end-to-end action as each side tried to take the lead.
With 1:30 left and the score knotted at 60-60, the score held through to the final buzzer, forcing the overtime period. Kim Taylor (Toronto, ON) had a chance to give the X-Women the lead in the final seconds but missed a jumper.
After three minutes of scoreless basketball in the overtime frame and some missed free throws by the X-Women, the Panthers got on the board off a Carolina Del Santo (Barcelona, Spain) jumper. They went on to hold the X-Women off the scoreboard and took the 66-60 win.
X-Women head coach Augy Jones commented, "We were so close but when you're inexperienced and it comes down to the moment, we missed foul shots and some open lay-ups but I am really proud of the team, we just wanted to come and have a better showing. I really loved the way the fans came out tonight."
Senior forward Kim Taylor, playing in her final game as an X-Women had 12 points on the night and 13 rebounds. Jamie McCarron (New Glasgow, NS) also scored 12, while Miller contributed 11 off the X bench.
Leading the Panthers was Subway player of the game Kiera Rigby (Charlottetown, PE) with 17 points. She also had eight rebounds on the night.
The Panthers wrap up the AUS season with an 11-9 record and 34 points, good enough for fourth place in the conference. They will meet the fifth seeded Acadia Axewomen (11-9, 32 points) in the quarter-finals next weekend at the Subway AUS Championship at the Halifax Scotiabank Centre.
Looking ahead to the championship Coach Gould noted, "This year from one through six it's been as close as it's ever been. I think almost every team has beaten everyone else so it's going to be tough battling."
Looking ahead to their quarter-final opponent Acadia, he commented, "They have been playing really well, they finished the season on a real strong note so our match-up with them is going to be tough but we feel that if we can defend and if we play together and are patient with the basketball then we have a chance to win."
The X-Women wrap up a disappointing 1-19 season in last place in the conference. Coach Jones said, "We'll learn from this season, we had about three or four games that we were that close and we lost all of those games, so I think a motivation for us to get better and stronger and more skilled so that we can come back and build upon what we did this year."