(ANTIGONISH, N.S.) The UNB Varsity Reds defeated the StFX X-Women 74-53 in AUS basketball action Friday night.
More than 500 fans came to Oland Centre in Antigonish to celebrate Senior Night.
Subway Player of the Game Grace Wade (Moncton, NB) led the Varsity Reds with 22 points, on nine-of-13 shooting, while chipping in three assists, two rebounds and two steals.
"We worked really hard. We wanted this win tonight; we didn't get it, but we never gave up," X-Women guard Melissa Gottschall (Antigonish, NS) said after the game.
Gottschall notched eight points, four rebounds and three assists for the X-Women, while fellow fourth-year senior Kolbi Roper (North Vancouver, BC) led the blue and white with 21 points, along with a game-high nine rebounds. She also added three steals and one assist.
Junior forward Lindsay Lessard (Waterloo, ON) contributed eight points, four rebounds, four assists and three steals for the X-Women.
The Varsity Reds, who led 32-24 at halftime, outscored the X-Women 6-0 in the final two minutes of the second quarter to take the eight-point advantage to the locker room.
Wade led the visitors with 15 points in the first half, including 10 in the opening quarter.
"We had a pretty good opening quarter, but we need to pick up our intensity," Roper, who had eight points at halftime, said during the intermission.
"We have to get on their shooters and play better defense."
The Varsity Reds shot 52 per cent from the field in the opening 20 minutes, while the X-Women garnered only 30.8 per cent.
In the second half, UNB continued their hot shooting, finishing with a 52.6 percentage from the field, compared to 34.6 for StFX.
The Varsity Reds outscored the X-Women 42 to 29 in the final two quarters.
UNB out-rebounded StFX 29 to 27, while the Varsity Reds committed 19 turnovers compared to 22 for StFX.
Kaye added a team-high eight assists, while Cleary corralled seven rebounds.
After the game, Roper, Gottschall and Emma Taylor (Scotsburn, NS) were honoured in their final home game for their contributions to the women's basketball program and StFX Athletics.
In the post-game ceremony, X-Women head coach Augy Jones described Taylor, in her first season with the basketball team, as a "great addition."
"It takes a lot for someone to go from the best team in Canada to one that is not the best team in the country," Jones said of Taylor, a three-time CIS champion with the X-Women rugby team, including in 2014.
He added Taylor's leadership with the young X-Women was "fantastic."
As for Gottschall, Jones said he has never coached a player - male of female - who works as hard as the Dr. John Hugh Gillis Regional High School product. As an illustration of that dedication and work ethic, he noted Gottschall took more than 13,000 shots in the off-season in preparation for the 2014-15 campaign.
Jones called Roper a "great athlete," noting she is the "fastest and strongest" player on the X-Women.
"She has been a joy to coach," he said, adding he was extremely proud of the team captain's growth and maturity as a team leader.
With the win, the Varsity Reds improve to 8-9, while the X-Women fall to 4-14.
The Varsity Reds return to action Saturday, Feb. 14, when they face the Dalhousie Tigers in Halifax.
On the same night, the X-Women will hit the hardwood versus the UPEI Panthers in Charlottetown.
Tip-off for both games is 6 p.m.
With files from St.FX Sports Information.
Photo by Erica Roberts.