The country’s second-ranked women’s basketball team is coming to Charlottetown this afternoon.
The UPEI Panthers (8-8) host the Saint Mary’s Huskies (15-0) at 3 p.m. in Atlantic University Sport (AUS) action.
“I’ve ranked them one all the way through (the season) and I believe they should be ranked No. 1,” said Panthers coach Greg Gould. “We’re certainly going into the game with the idea that we can beat them and we are going to beat them.”
But, Greg said, it won’t be easy.
“We have to execute our game plan close to perfection.”
The Huskies have four players, Justine Colley, Rachelle Coward, Laura Langille and Emily Jameson, among the conference’s top-20 scorers. Colley is averaging 21 points a game, recently became the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) all-time leading scorer at 2,194 points and is a national team player.
Amy Gough and Danielle MacDonald lead the Panthers in scoring at 13 and 10 points, respectively.
“We feel it’s very difficult for a team to go through the entire season undefeated,” Gould said.
If someone is going to beat them, the Panthers coach asked, “Why not us?”
The Huskies won 88-51 on Jan. 11 in the only other meeting this season between the two clubs.
Saint Mary’s had quarter leads of 21-17 and 35-34 before pulling away in the second half.
This is one of a number of four-point games this weekend throughout the conference.
UPEI's Terrilyn Herrick is out for today's game with a sprained ankle while Candace Smith is coming back from a sprained ankle and probably won't play.
The game is also the Panthers Shoot For The Cure fundraiser in support of breast cancer research. There will be a number of initiatives at the Panthers basketball and hockey games today and the players ask fans to wear pink to show their support.
A second-place showdown takes place at 5 p.m.
The Panthers (9-7) and Huskies (10-5) are tied with 24 points in the men’s standings. A Panthers win would put them four points up on the Huskies and give them the tiebreaker, if the teams are tied at the end of the season.
Four points currently separate second from fifth place.
“Saint Mary’s, us, X and UNB are all in a dogfight for that second bye,” said UPEI coach Tim Kendrick, noting tonight’s game is “huge.”
UPEI beat Saint Mary’s in Halifax on Jan. 11, but the Huskies were missing some key contributors.
“It should be a shootout,” Kendrick said. “The last one was 92-81 and I don’t expect to see a whole lot different.”
The Panthers have three games remaining after today. They are each worth four points and include two games at Memorial and one at home against St. F.X.
The Panthers are relatively healthy and should have its whole team available tonight.
Aaron Robbins will be in the lineup. John Ryan, director of athletics at Cape Breton University, reviewed a foul called on Robbins at Acadia on Jan. 18. He determined a suspension was not warranted.
Shoot For The Cure Day at UPEI today:
3 p.m. – Saint Mary’s at UPEI.
5 p.m. – Saint Mary’s at UPEI.
– Ceremonial ball toss.
- Displays and a merchandise sale with proceeds to breast cancer research.
- Shave for the Brave. Women's basketball student-athlete Danielle MacDonald has pledged to cut eight inches of her hair off in support of breast cancer research. MacDonald’s goal was $1,000 but she had raised close to $1,300 online as of Friday afternoon. People can donate at http://www.gofundme.com/6cr3zo. The official cutting ceremony will take place immediately after the men's game. MacDonald will be joined by men's basketball student-athlete Geoff Doane, who will show his support by having his head shaved.
- Bake Sale
3:30 p.m. – Saint Mary’s at UPEI.
7 p.m. – St. Thomas at UPEI.
Panther hockey is supporting Shoot For the Cure with Pink at the Rink with both teams wearing special inspired jerseys. There will also be a display, merchandise and bake sales and a candy jar fundraiser.