By Thomas Becker
Behind a 42-point second half, the Varsity Reds spoiled the Panthers' home opener with a 77-61 win Friday night.
Senior guard, Laura Kaye, led her team with 24 points on 10-of-21 shooting, including 4-of-10 from distance.
"It just felt good tonight. We've all been working on our threes, and I think we're starting off the season well with it," said Kaye, who earned Subway Player of the Game honours.
It must've been a combination of nerves and excitement for the Panthers, as they missed open layups in the early going. Their defence, however, kept them close by holding UNB to just 33.3 per cent shooting, while forcing eight turnovers.
Still, the Varsity Reds started out on a 10-4 run before UPEI stormed back with four consecutive layups, as they carried a 14-12 lead after one. Reese Baxendale was in the middle of all the action, leading the way with six of her team-leading 16 points in the opening frame.
Two UNB triples early in the second quarter pushed them ahead 22-20 and after the Panthers tied it, the Varsity Reds went on an extended run to lead 30-24 midway through the quarter. But UPEI returned the favour, finishing the half on a 9-5 run, capped off by a Jane McLaughlin three-pointer at the buzzer, cutting the deficit to 35-33.
On the other end, Kaye was especially effective scoring nine second-quarter points on 3-of-5 shooting from beyond the arc. The UPEI defence that once limited UNB to just 33.3 per cent, wasn't nearly as effective in the second, allowing the Varsity Reds to shoot at 53.3 per cent clip.
The two teams traded baskets early in the third. However, Grace Wade continued the UNB trend of making big threes, as they outscored the Panthers 22-15 to pull away 57-48.
"The key for us was our ball movement and not staying stagnant and it allowed us to get open looks," Kaye said.
A combination of missed shots and lazy closeouts in the fourth quarter stifled any chance of a comeback, as UNB held onto their lead to take the first game of the weekend series 77-61.
"I think for us, it's about being disruptive on the defensive end and not letting them get what they want."
The Panthers look to avenge their loss when the teams square off again for a Remembrance Day game at 6 p.m.
Photo Credit: Janessa Hogan