The UPEI Panthers never trailed Friday as they opened the Atlantic University Sport men’s basketball season with an 18-point victory over the Dalhousie Tigers.
The host Panthers had five-point leads after the first and second quarters, but won the third by 12 to take a commanding 76-52 lead and never looked back, winning 99-88 in front 560 fans.
“I think we were really well prepared,” coach Tim Kendrick said after the game.
“We dealt with the injury stuff all week. … We came into today kind of feeling like we were going to make a stand here. No matter who wasn’t there, it was going to be about who was there.”
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The Panthers only had 10 players see the floor and two of them played about 10 minutes each.
“I think it was total team effort,” Kendrick said.
Mandrez Downey and Joe Kendrick led the Panthers with 21 and 20 points, respectively. Deontay Smith added 17, Geoff Doane had 15 and Lorenzo Parker 10.
Downey, Smith and Parker are all rookies.
“Those kids can play,” Kendrick said. “They’re attitudes are great and they work hard.”
Parker, a rookie from the Horton High School program in Nova Scotia, was a perfect 3-for-3 from the field.
They all came from behind the arc, including two on back-to-back possessions in the second quarter.
“He’s one of the top players coming out of the Maritime provinces last year,” Kendrick said.
The Tigers were led by reserves Keith Robinson with 23 and Kashrell Lawrence’s 12 points.
The Panthers shot 48.6 from the field compared to the Tigers 42.6.
The teams face each other today at 5 p.m.
“Tonight means nothing if we don’t come out tomorrow with an even better effort,” Kendrick said.
The UPEI Panthers let one slip away, losing 72-64 to the Dalhousie Tigers.
The Panthers led 56-55 with 6:33 left but could not close out the game. The Tigers went on a 17-8 run to pick up their first victory of the season.
“We’re obviously very disappointed,” said Panthers’ coach Greg Gould. “I think it was a game we had a chance to win.”
After the Tigers built a five-point lead Jenna Jones hit a key three to make it a one–possession game with 3:04 on the clock. But it was short lived as Keisha Brown drilled a three on the next trip down the floor for the Tigers.
Jones missed a layup the next play, but grabbed the rebound and got the put back to cut the deficit to 64-59 with 2:31 left, but that’s as close as they would get.
“We got into the fourth quarter and really got stagnant in our offence,” Gould said. “We just stopped penetrating and started watching.”
Amy Gough and Laura Power each scored 13 while Darcy Zinck added nine to lead the Panthers. Gough added seven boards, four steals, a block and an assist.
The Tigers had four players in double digits, including Brown with 18 and Kensington native Tessa Stammberger with 14.
The game was intense and a seesaw battle.
“I’m proud of my team. I think we’ve established the fact we’re going to compete,” said Gould, the first-year coach. “It’s one thing to earn respect, it’s another thing to get Ws.”
The Panthers led 40-38 at the half, but were outscored by 10 in the second half.
“We missed a lot of easy shots that we could have made,” said Gough, a third-year guard from St. John’s.
“We played better defence in the second half, relative to the first, so we just need to come out strong on the defensive end.”
They will get that opportunity today when they host the Tigers again at 3 p.m.