The St. F.X X-Women are going to the AUS women’s basketball final after an 86-82 overtime victory Saturday against the UPEI Panthers.
The lead change eight times and included the Panthers fighting back from a 15-point deficit midway through the first quarter in front of an estimated crowd of about 850.
The X-Women will play the undefeated Saint Mary’s Huskies Sunday at 2 p.m. at UPEI.
Rebecca Sheehan led St. F.X. with 22 points and 10 rebounds.
“It feels great,” she said after the final buzzer, but "it was really tough."
She noted two key players Lia St. Pierre and Kolbi Roper fouled out in the fourth quarter.
Pierre had 17 points and nine rebounds, Lindsay Lessard had 14 points and 13 boards, Roper 15 points and Kimberley Taylor nine points and 10 rebounds.
Danielle MacDonald led the Panthers with 21 points. Jenna Jones and Julie Hatcher added 13 and 11 points, respectively, off the bench. Kiera Rigby had eight points and seven rebounds while Amy Gough had seven points, seven boards, three assists and two steals.
After the X-Women jumped out to a 15-point lead midway through the first quarter, the Panthers responded and went to the second quarter down one.
"Everyone goes on runs. We knew we didn’t win it in the first five minutes," Sheehan said.
Panthers coach Greg Gould said he told his players the game was far from over.
“They could have folded their tents right there and walked away from it and to their credit they never, ever, ever, ever stopped playing hard,” he said.
Gould told his players how proud he was of them after the game.
“Get the tears out in the locker room and when you walk out of there, get your heads up high because you battled the whole way,” he said.
“I wouldn’t trade one of them for anybody in the league," he told The Guardian. "They couldn’t pay me $100,000 to go some place else and coach. I love these kids.”
Gould said there were key contributions from many of the players on Saturday. He noted Katie Donahoe was dealing with injuries but hustled all night. Jones, who has fought through her own injuries this season, hit a number of key baskets early to get the Panthers back into the game.
UPEI can return all its players next season.
The final is a rematch of last year's final that Saint Mary's won 90-57.
“It’s pretty exciting,” Sheehan said. “This time last year it was the same thing, so I’m hoping this year it will be a different outcome for us.”