(CHARLOTTETOWN, PE) The UPEI Panthers are headed to the post-season following a 66-57 win over the UNB Varsity Reds Saturday night.
"It was an important game," said head coach Greg Gould. "We knew if we won this game it would put us in the playoffs."
Kimeshia Henry(Ajax, ON) got things going for the Panthers, kick-starting a 13-4 run which was capped by a Karla Yepez(Quito, ECU) layup.
All five Panthers starters scored in the opening quarter, where they led 20-13.
After being held scoreless for three minutes to begin the second quarter, Gould called a timeout to regroup his squad, who still held a slim five-point advantage, 20-15.
Hannah Currie(Collingwood, ON) scored four second-quarter points, leading a 6-0 Varsity Reds charge. But the Panthers responded quickly behind Jenna Mae Ellsworth(Charlottetown, PE) who took control and led her team to a 29-23 half-time advantage. Ellsworth finished with a game-high 19 points.
Both teams traded baskets early in the third quarter, until Nicole LaFleur(Fredericton, NB) hit a big three to pull UNB within three, 31-28. LaFleur had a team-high 19 points for UNB.
Up just one, Ellsworth went coast to coast and spun off her defender for an impressive lay-in, keeping the lead intact. But LaFleur hit back-to-back baskets to move UNB ahead 36-33.
Henry dominated the third quarter. She sped past one defender for a layup, giving UPEI a 46-44 edge heading into the final frame, on her way to finishing with 10 points on the night.
"I thought she played great on both ends," Gould said. "I was super impressed by her."
UPEI's strong play continued in the fourth, where they extended their advantage to 56-45, while holding the Varsity Reds to just one point in the first four minutes of the quarter.
A mini 9-6 run brought UNB within eight, but that's as close they got as the Panthers pulled away for the 66-57 win.
The Varsity Reds host the St. FX X-Women Friday and Saturday, at the Richard J. Currie Center, while the Panthers hit the road to face the Memorial Sea-Hawks next weekend.
RECAP BY: Thomas Becker/for UPEI Athletics
PHOTOS BY: UPEI Athletics