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UPDATE: Panthers beat undefeated Axewomen, U SPORTS top-ranked team

UPEI Panthers forward Kiera Rigby beats an Acadia Axewomen defender and prepares to take a shot Saturday during Atlantic University Sport women's basketball action in Wolfville, N.S.
UPEI Panthers forward Kiera Rigby beats an Acadia Axewomen defender and prepares to take a shot Saturday during Atlantic University Sport women's basketball action in Wolfville, N.S. - Peter Oleskevich

WOLFVILLE, N.S. – The UPEI Panthers women’s basketball team beat the top-ranked team in the country Saturday night in Wolfville, N.S.

Charlottetown’s Kiera Rigby had 25 points, five rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks to lead the Panthers to an 88-68 victory over the Acadia Axewomen in Atlantic University Sport (AUS) action.

Panthers head coach Greg Gould said it was the biggest regular season win he’s been a part of.

“It’s pretty special when you can come home and say you knocked off the No. 1 team in the country,” he said. “You’re going to be able to say that forever.”

Rookie Reece Baxendale scored 19 to go with three assists and three steals while point guard Jenna Mae Ellsworth scored 16, grabbed five boards, dished out four dimes and added a steal.

Centre Carolina Del Santo had 20 rebounds, seven points, three assists and three blocks while Karla Yepez had 10 points and five rebounds off the bench.

“Everybody contributed,” Gould said. “I thought we got off to a decent start and when crunch time came I thought we got some good stops, we rebounded the ball really well and shot the ball well.”

Paloma Anderson led the Axewomen with 17 points while Chanel Smith had 15 points and 13 rebounds. Haley McDonald and Alexandra Berry each scored 13.

The Panthers held 17-15 and 35-30 quarter leaders before outscoring the Axewomen 28-16 in the third to take a 63-46 advantage to the final 10 minutes.

Gould said the Panthers turned the ball over a couple of times in the second quarter against the zone.

“We were holding the ball a little bit too much. Once we got some ball movement, we got good open shots and we made them.”

UPEI won the battle on the boards 49-45, and shot better than Acadia from the field (47 per cent to 31) and three-point territory (42 per cent to 16) while the Axewomen were better from the free-throw line (81 per cent to 64).

Gould said his coaching staff challenged its players heading into the game, letting them know AUS squads don’t get to play U Sports top-ranked team often. The Panthers also had confidence knowing they could play at Acadia, losing by three in Wolfville, N.S., a year earlier.

“I’m very pleased for our kids because we really worked hard the last couple of weeks,” he said. “They were rewarded as a result.”

The Panthers improved to 6-6 and gained four points in the standings while the first-place Axewomen are 11-1.

While pleased with the victory, Gould said it is important to celebrate it, but keep it in perspective.

“You certainly want to enjoy it, but you can’t get too excited about it because it’s one win. The prize is at the end of the season.”

The Panthers have defeated every team in the conference they have played except Cape Breton. The Capers come to Charlottetown for games on Saturday, Jan. 27, and Sunday, Jan. 28. The only other team UPEI hasn’t played is the Memorial Sea-Hawks, who visit Charlottetown the following weekend.

 

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