By Thomas Becker
The UPEI Panthers delivered a complete team effort in a 77-50 dismantling of the Dalhousie Tigers Sunday afternoon.
Offensively, the Panthers (11-1) made a conscious effort to get the ball inside and it worked. They finished with 48 points in the paint and 15 free throws. Defensively, they contested everything and held the Tigers to just 33.9 per cent shooting. The bench, meanwhile, was outstanding as they poured in 35 points, fueled by Kimeshia Henry's 14 and Tamara Timm's 10.
It's that kind of united performance that had head coach Matt Gamblin smiling (at times) on the sidelines.
"We're at practice everyday together, so everybody's playing against each other and growing together," Gamblin said.
The Tigers (6-6) opened the game with back-to-back layups by Robertha Charles, only to be matched by Carolina Del Santo's two lay-ins. The Panthers continued to look inside for easy baskets and opened up a 14-10 advantage. A big three from Annabelle Charron and a pair of free throws extended the lead 19-12 after a quarter of action.
UPEI carried that momentum into the second, where they went on an 11-2 run, capped off by two offensive rebounds by Del Santo that led to an old fashioned three-point play by Henry. Dalhousie had no answer in the painted area, as the home team bullied their way to high percentage shots.
The Panthers were equally effective on the defensive end and the reigning Defensive Player of the Year played a big part. In 21 minutes of action, Del Santo filled the stat sheet with eight points, 11 rebounds, five blocks, four assists and two steals.
"We trust each other on that end of the floor," said Del Santo, who was named the Subway Player of the Game. "The key to a good defence is communication. You have to have your teammates back and they have to have yours.
Collectively, the league's top-ranked defence held the Tigers – who shot just 22.2 per cent at the half – scoreless for over eight minutes to break the game open 41-14. They carried a 45-17 lead at halftime, where Baxendale led all scorers with 10. She finished with a game-high 16 points.
Jenna Mae Ellsworth scored seven quick points to open the third and after they pushed the lead to 57-23, Gamblin, for the second straight game, worked his entire bench. And they wouldn't let him down as the Panthers took a 61-33 advantage into the fourth, where they captured their ninth straight win 77-50.
UPEI now gets set to take on the Memorial Sea-Hawks next weekend.
Photo Credit: Janessa Hogan