Antigonish, NS – The UPEI Panthers topped the StFX X-Women 73-60 in AUS action Friday night at the Saputo Centre in StFX's home opener.
UPEI got out to leads of 24-14 after the first quarter and 42-26 at halftime and then hung on for the win. The X-Women outpaced them 34-31 in the second half but the lead was too much to overcome.
In the first quarter, Panthers guard Reese Baxendale (Apohaqui, NB) scored eight points, including a pair of three-pointers late in the quarter to pace UPEI. The Panthers had great shooting beyond the arc where they went four for eight.
The young X-Women were in tough against the experienced Panthers team led by guards Jenna Mae Ellsworth (Charlottetown, PE) and Baxendale. First year StFX guard Aliyah Fraser (New Glasgow, NS), was equally proficient on the offensive and defensive side of the ball. She put herself in good positions to use her reach and disrupt the Panthers' offensive flow. One player the X-Women found difficult to stop was Karla Yepez (Quito, Ecuador) who was key to the Panthers attack.
The Panthers extended their first to 16 at the halftime break on the strength of smooth shooting and tough defence. UPEI limited the X-Women to 12 hard fought points, eight of which came from the foul line.
On numerous occasions StFX found themselves with under 10 seconds on the shot clock and no open shot it sight. Freshman guard Lexi MacInnis (Mermaid, PE) came off the bench to give the Panthers solid minutes and five valuable points. UPEI took a 42-26 lead into half time.
The third quarter was an exciting back and forth affair in which StFX shaded the Panthers 18 to 17 on the scoreboard. Kimberly Kingsbury (Nepean, ON) was a dominating force scoring eight points and controlling the pace of play. Lauren Fleming (Sussex, NB), who impressed off the UPEI bench in the first half, contributed five well deserved points to maintain the Panthers lead going into the final frame.
The fourth quarter lacked the intensity of the first three, but one in which both team's rookies came to the fore. For the Panthers, Annabelle Charron (Saint-Hyacinthe, QC) showed the necessary skill and savvy to be a great AUS basketball player. For StFX, MacDonald grew in confidence as she constantly looked for the ball in the offensive zone but, more impressively, looks like she could guard any player on the court such is the quickness of her feet and alertness of mind.
After 40 minutes of entertaining basketball the Panthers were victorious 73-60.
Veteran fourth year guard Jenna Mae Ellsworth (Charlottetown, PE) had a strong half for the Panthers scoring 11 points. She led the team with 17 on the night and earned Subway player of the game honours. She also contributed nine rebounds, four assists and two steals.
Baxendale finished the night with 14 points and Lauren Rainford (Toronto, ON) scored 10. Carolina Del Santo (Barcelona, Spain) added eight points and led the team in rebounding with 10.
For the X-Women, freshman forward Briar MacDonald (Antigonish, NS) scored 17 points and pulled down seven rebounds. Kingsbury had 16 points for X and added six treys, while Marley Bonnick contributed 12 points and seven rebounds.
The X-Women had a 25.4 field goal percentage compared to the Panthers at 35.4%.
The same two teams will be back in action again on Coach K Court in Antigonish on Saturday night. Tip-off is 6:00 pm.
Courtesy Bart Sears, StFX Sports Information
Photos by Bryan Kennedy