Panthers top Varsity Reds 76-70 to advance to semifinals versus Cape Breton

Photo by Nick Pearce
Photo by Nick Pearce

(HALIFAX, N.S.) In Friday's second women's quarterfinal matchup of the Subway AUS Women's Basketball Championship, the No. 3-seeded UPEI Panthers topped the sixth-seeded UNB Varsity Reds 76-70.

AUS second team all-star, Jenna Mae Ellsworth and AUS Rookie of the Year and all-rookie team member, Reese Baxendale combined for 58 points for UPEI.

The first quarter was tightly contested until UNB went on an 8-2 run to end the quarter, holding the Panthers to 15.8% shooting (3-19 FG), and finishing the first quarter with a 16-10 lead.

The Varsity Reds maintained their lead throughout the second quarter, but the Panthers were buoyed by the strong play of Ellsworth and Baxendale who combined for 26 of the team's 29 first-half points.

The Varsity Reds used a balanced attack with eight players contributing points in the first half, led by Hannah Currie's 12 points and six rebounds, as they finished the half with a 34-29 lead.

Baxendale continued her strong play for the Panthers in the third quarter, scoring 13 of her team's 22 points and helping them reclaim the lead they'd lost four minutes into the first quarter.

Heading into the fourth quarter the Panthers led UNB 51-48 capitalizing on the Varsity Reds' 16 turnovers.

In the fourth UPEI would slowly build their lead over the first eight minutes, extending it to as much as eight points.

However, the Varsity Reds made a late push with just over a minute remaining thanks to clutch baskets by Laura Kaye and Nicole Esson, cutting the lead to four before the Panthers would put the game out of reach in the final minute.

Baxendale and Ellsworth led the way for the Panthers with 30 points and 28 points respectively. Baxendale was named Subway Player of the Game for her efforts.

Also notable for the Panthers was AUS Defensive Player of the Year Carolina Del Santo. She was named Wilsons Security defensive player of the game after finishing the game with nine points, 19 rebounds three blocks and three steals.

Hannah Currie led the Varsity Reds with 24 points, 17 rebounds and three blocks.

The UPEI Panthers move on to play the Cape Breton Capers in Saturday afternoon's second semifinal matchup at 3 p.m. at the Scotiabank Centre in Halifax.

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