UPDATE: Heartbreaker for Panthers in 87-85 loss to Tigers

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The sting is evident in Tim Kendrick’s voice.

He wanted his UPEI Panthers to win because they deserved it.

He wanted to win because the university deserved it.

But it wasn’t to be.

The Dalhousie Tigers defeat the Panthers 87-85 Sunday at the Scotiabank Centre in Halifax to repeat as Atlantic University Sport men’s basketball champs.

Kendrick, the fifth-year Panthers head coach, said his players were “devastated” after a game they went toe-to-toe with the defending champs for 40 minutes.

“The young men literally played their hearts out and we didn't get the result we wanted,” he said.

The Panthers came out on fire, leading 11-2 2:14 into the game. They were up 20-4 midway through the quarter but the Tigers responded and the UPEI lead was down to 25-17 heading to the second.

UPEI led 37-36 at the half, but trailed 61-57 heading to the fourth.

The Panthers faced plenty of adversity on Sunday.

UPEI’s coaches had told officials Panther guard Tyler Scott was being held. Scott was whistled for a push-off to pick up his fourth foul with 1:01 left in the third. He had to sit until about seven minutes remaining in the game to guard against fouling out.

Lorenzo Parker injured his knee with 40 seconds remaining in the third quarter when a Tiger landed on him.

“I think our players responded with a lot of heart and a lot of pride. It just didn't go our way in the end,” Kendrick said.

Parker tried to return to the game, but after a few seconds it was evident the damage had been done and he had to sit the rest of the game.

“It was an awful physical game,” Kendrick said.

Ritchie Kanza Mata scored 21 to lead the Tigers while Cedric Sanogo and Kashrell Lawrence each chipped in 14 and Sven Stammberger 13.

Scott had 23 points for the Panthers while Milorad Sedlarevic had 17, Bradley States 15 and Amin Suleman 12. Dut Dut had 14 rebounds.

States was playing after suffering a calf injury in Saturday’s semifinal.

He played 37 minutes Sunday after icing the calf overnight and receiving treatment before the championship game.

Kendrick said he told his players he loved them after the game and left them with another message: “Remember this feeling.”

The Panthers can return all its players next season. A year more experienced and with Scott, States and Parker entering their final season.

“We’re going to learn from this,” Kendrick said. “We expect to be back in this game with a different result next year.”

There is a possibility the Panthers receive a wildcard into the eight-team nationals in Vancouver from March 17 to 20. The champs from the Atlantic, Quebec, Ontario and Canada West conference earn automatic berths. The host UBC is in as are one team each assigned by the Ontario and Canada West conferences, leaving one at-large berth available.

Organizations: Dalhousie Tigers, Panthers, Atlantic University Sport

Geographic location: Halifax

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