(FREDERICTON, NB) The UNB Varsity Reds hung on to beat the visiting UPEI Panthers 57-51, Friday night.
With the win, UNB improves to 3-0, good for a share of first place in the Atlantic University Sport standings.
Nicole LaFleur(Fredericton, NB) led the Varsity Reds, scoring 12 points.
Jane McLaughlin(Fortune, PE) was top scorer for UPEI, dropping a game-high 13.
The VReds built a 21-3 first quarter lead.
In the end, they'd need every bit of it.
With the home side up 4-3 early in the first, Eva Tumwine(Fredericton, NB) came off the bench and scored six straight points to give UNB a 10-3 lead.
Tumwine's push was part of a 17-point run by the Varsity Reds.
The Panthers scored the first five points of the second quarter, all from the free throw line, before UNB was able to rebound.
At the half, the Varsity Reds led 34-17.
The Panthers came out with a little more energy in the second half.
"I think it was more us," said Tumwine. "We let up some, we weren't closing out on their shooters, not boxing out on their rebounders… we know that's a good offensive rebounding team and we let up on that, and gave them a second chance at the game."
UPEI trailed 50-34 after three quarters, but closed the gap to just 11 points with less than 6:30 to play.
Varsity Reds head coach Jeff Speedy called time out.
His team scored the next basket, a big three point shot by Laura Kaye(Fredericton, NB), pushing UNB's lead back to 14.
The Panthers continued to chip away though, cutting the UNB lead to ten. Then, with less than a minute to play, a UPEI basket made it 55-49.
Hannah Currie(Collingwood, ON) hit a couple of free throws in the dying moments to make the final score 57-51.
Pleased with the result, Speedy says there were marked differences in his team's play from the first half to the second.
"Our intelligence on defence and our poise on offence," he said. "We did, not very much of either in the second half."
"Good players take advantage of that, when you're not doing the right things defensively... and it's hard to get scores when we're not doing the right thing offensively."
"We underestimated our opponents, but by the time we realized that… the score was close," said Tumwine.
The Panthers didn't hit a field goal in the first quarter, and made only two in the first half.
"I was really disappointed with how we started the basketball game," said Panthers head coach Greg Gould. "I don't think we had the intensity that we needed, we didn't defend the way we like to and we didn't score, we didn't get the ball inside."
Gould was pleased to see a better second half, but expects more from the Panthers when they face UNB again, on Saturday.
"For us to beat them, we have to play at our best, and we didn't play at our best," said Gould.
The Varsity Reds and Panthers meet again, Saturday.
Tip off is scheduled for 6:00PM.