© Andy Campbell/UNB Athletics
Tamara Tompkins led the UPEI women's basketball Panthers with 15 points Friday night in Fredericton.
UPEI clinch fifth and will play UNB in first AUS playoff game Friday at 1 p.m. in Halifax
Call it a reversal of fortunes.
The UNB Varsity Reds outscored the UPEI Panthers 25-5 in the second quarter en route to a 70-59 victory Friday night at the Richard J. Currie Center.
With the four-point win, the V-Reds (11-8) clinch fourth place in the Atlantic University Sport women’s basketball conference and will meet the fifth-place Panthers (6-14) in the first round of the AUS playoffs next Friday at 1 p.m. in Halifax.
A year ago, the Panthers pounded the V-Reds 65-45 in a first-round matchup. More recently, UPEI outscored UNB 23-7 in the second quarter on their way to a 70-56 four-point win on Jan. 22 on the Island.
The Panthers actually led 19-12 early in the second quarter, thanks to a trio of three-pointers by Riverview fifth-year guard Katie Donahoe, but the Reds went on a 15-0 run over a four-minute span and led 37-22 at the intermission.
“As a coach, I’m not very happy when we give up 25 points in a quarter,” UPEI head coach Greg Gould said. “We just seemed to be a little bit slow tonight, for some reason, and in the first half we missed seven layups. That was the difference. If we make our layups, it would have been a one- or two-point ballgame at the half.”
“I’ll have to check the video to see how much holding them to five points was our defence compared to them missing some shots they usually make,” UNB head coach Jeff Speedy said. “But I felt good about our defence in the second quarter.”
Rachel Cleary led the Reds with 16 points in 24 minutes. Grace Wade chipped in with 14 points and five assists while Laura Kaye contributed 10 points, six rebounds and four assists.
Donahoe finished with 14 points and four steals while another fifth-year New Brunswick guard, Tamara Tompkins of Centreville, led the Panthers with 15 points. Jane McLaughlin added 10 for the Panthers, who have seven rookies on their roster.
“The kids gave a good effort the second half,” Gould said. “Both coaches knew this was most likely a playoff preview, so both coaches were probably holding a little bit back. I know I was. I assume Jeff was.”
“No doubt,” said Speedy, who played 10 players at least 10 minutes. “We were pretty sure we were going to be playing each other. We’ve each won on our home court, so let’s see what happens on a neutral court.”
Wade hopes more of the same happens.
“I like this outcome a lot better than the one in Charlottetown,” Wade said. “We also had an unfortunate outcome against UPEI last year in playoffs, so this win was really good for our confidence going in (to the playoff rematch). We’ve always struggled against that team, for one reason or another, so it’s good that we proved to ourselves we could beat them.”
Wade knows the Panthers won’t be a pushover: “They’re a very aggressive, very fast-paced and in-your-face kind of team. That is, at times, hard to play against. So I was proud of how we handled ourselves tonight and kept our composure,”
The Reds had a decisive rebounding advantage, 33-16.
“We knew going in our advantage was inside,” Wade said. “They don’t have a lot of height. We do.”
In other four-pointers, host Cape Breton beat Dalhousie 68-58 while St. FX edged Memorial 74-71 on the Rock.
The V-Reds wrap up the regular season with another four-pointer Saturday night against the Acadia Axewomen (16-3). Tip off is 6 p.m. at the Currie centre.
Bruce Halliwell, The Daily Gleaner