Crunch time as UPEI host Memorial with critical points on the line

Jason Malloy
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It's the biggest weekend of the season for the UPEI Panthers women's basketball team.

The Panthers host the Memorial Sea-Hawks tonight at 6 p.m. and Sunday at 11 a.m. They are among the four teams battling for the final two playoff spots. Both teams have four games remaining in their Atlantic University Sport (AUS) regular seasons.

Tonight's contest will also mark the return of Mark English, who coached the Panthers last season before returning to home to St. John's, N.L., to coach at his alma mater.

"Our teams are fighting for their playoff lives," Panthers head coach Greg Gould said. "They're going to come in and be fired up to try and play and we'll be the same."

The Panthers remaining four games are each worth four points. They end the regular season at Dalhousie on Feb. 20 and at UNB on Feb. 26.

"It's crunch time," Gould said. "You can go through all the ifs and ands and scenarios, but if we were to win both games this weekend, I think, it puts us in pretty good shape."

Gould said he expects a lot of ball pressure from the Sea-Hawks this weekend.

"It's going to be critical for us this weekend to take care of the basketball," he said.

The Panthers are fortunate to have fifth-year point guard Katie Donahoe, who is tied for fifth in the country in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.6) while leading the way in minutes played at nearly 38 per game.

"I think she's the best guard in the league overall and I think her stats would support that," Gould said.

It's also going to be key for the rest of the starting lineup to handle the ball well. The pressure could wear the Panthers down, particularly with back-to-back games.

"I think our bench is going to have to step up a little bit," Gould said.

It doesn't mean they need a ton of scoring, but good defence, rebounding and limit the turnovers.

The Panthers will recognize graduating players Donahoe, Tamara Tompkins, Anne Kiberd and Elysia Drost at halftime of Sunday's men's game. It will be their final home games.

Organizations: Panthers, Atlantic University Sport

Geographic location: St. John's

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