© Guardian Photos By Jason Malloy
UPEI Panthers, from left, Jane McLaughlin, Kiera Rigby and Darcy Zinck celebrate a second half basket Friday during the Atlantic University Sport women’s basketball quarter-final in Charlottetown.
Dalhousie, Saint Mary's and St. F.X. are also in tonight's semifinal games
Amy Gough had a season-high 26 points to lead the UPEI Panthers to victory Friday at the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) Women’s Basketball Championships.
The 67-56 victory over the Cape Breton Capers was sweet for Gough, one of three fourth-year Panthers who played in their first playoff game on Friday.
“It’s been a long time coming, so we’re pretty excited about it,” said Gough, a St. John’s, N.L. native. “All our hard work finally has paid off.”
Gough was 5-for-12 from the field, but made hay at the free-throw line, where she connected on 15 of her 17 attempts. She also added 10 rebounds, six assists, two blocks and a steal.
UPEI will play the St. F.X. X-Women in tonight’s 8:15 p.m. semifinal with a berth in Sunday’s 2 p.m. final on the line.
On Friday, the Panthers built a 13-point lead early in the second quarter and were up seven going to the break. UPEI, which entered the playoffs as the sixth seed, increased the lead to 16 late in the third quarter and withstood all of the third-ranked Capers pushes.
“I said coming into this there was no upset other than someone beating (Saint Mary’s),” Cape Breton coach Fabian McKenzie. “Tonight they outplayed us. They did a lot of things very well and we didn’t.”
He said it was the first playoff game for 10 of his 11 players and will be something they learn from going forward as a program.
The Panthers victory came in front of the largest and most boisterous crowd of the season. There were other varsity athletes, friends and family in the stands, making noise and showing their support.
“I thought the fans were vocal,” coach Greg Gould said. “I think they helped give us a little bit of energy.”
“Everybody is here to support us, so it feels so good,” added Danielle MacDonald, a fourth-year Panther guard, who had 16 points, four rebounds. “It was awesome.”
She said the win was very gratifying after not getting to play the past three postseasons.
“I think it set the tone for the weekend and kind of shows that we deserve to be here,” MacDonald said.
While the Panthers may not have had a player on the all-star team they have won a lot of games this season by getting key contributions from a number of players. That continued on Friday night in a physical contest.
Coach Greg Gould pointed to Jenna Jones, Tamara Tompkins, Kiera Rigby, who all contributed key minutes off the bench, and added MacDonald, Laura Power and Darcy Zinck were key defensively.
The X-Women swept both games with the Panthers this season.
UPEI lost 80-62 on Nov. 30 in Antigonish, N.S., and 69-66 in the last regular season game on Feb. 21 in Charlottetown.
“(We have to) bring the same intensity that we brought today and just stick together as a team because that’s when we play our best,” Gough said.
Dalhousie 70, Memorial 64
The Dalhousie Tigers outscored the Memorial Sea-Hawks by 10 in the fourth quarter to punch their ticket to tonight’s semifinal.
The Tigers trailed 56-52 going to the final frame but pulled out a 70-64 victory to set up an all-Halifax semifinal with the undefeated Saint Mary’s Huskies at 6 p.m.
Courtney Thompson had 22 points to lead the Tigers while Robbi Daley had 17 and Rebecca Nuttall added 14.
Kelia Pond had 15 for Memorial while Megan Robinson added 12.
Cape Breton – 56
UPEI – 67
Score by the quarter
UPEI 15 19 17 16 - 67
Cape Breton 11 16 14 15 - 56
Cape Breton – Tanira McClurkin 16, Colleen Keane 14, Keishia Lespoir 9 and Alison Keough 8.
UPEI – Amy Gough 26, Danielle MacDonald 16, Jenna Jones and Tamara Tompkins 7
Cape Breton – McClurkin 4.
UPEI – Gough 6.
Cape Breton – Keough 15 and Keane 7.
UPEI – Gough 10 and Laura Power 7.
Cape Breton – 31.1 (19-61)
UPEI – 39.6 (21-53)
Cape Breton – 19 (4-21)
UPEI – 18.8 (3-16)
Cape Breton – 58.3 (14-24)
UPEI – 75.9 (22-29)
Attendance – Estimated 750