(FREDERICTON, NB) The UNB Varsity Reds are now 4-and-0 to start the Atlantic University Sport season, after a 61-52 win over the UPEI Panthers, Saturday.
Laura Kaye(Fredericton, NB) scored a game-high 21 points to lead the home side.
"It felt good to get back in the rhythm," said Kaye. "To finally have some shots fall, which for me has been a bit of a struggle."
Karla Yepez Villamorin(Quito, ECU) led the Panthers with 16.
A night after struggling through the first quarter, the Panthers looked like a different squad.
UNB jumped out to a 5-2 lead mid-way through the first quarter, before Villamorin hit a three-point shot to tie it 5-5.
At 5:45 of the first quarter, UPEI saw its first lead of the weekend when Kimeshia Henry(Ajax, ON) hit a jumper that gave the Panthers a 7-5 edge.
UPEI led 13-12 after one quarter.
The Varsity Reds' struggles continued early in the second quarter. They didn't score a basket until after the 3:00 mark.
That's when things turned… and Kaye thundered to life.
Down 18-12, UNB went on a 13-1 run to close the half.
Kaye led the surge, hitting three key three-point shots. She was four-for-five from three-point range in the first half.
UNB took a 25-19 lead into the intermission.
UPEI scored on the first two possessions of the second half, pulling within two.
But another Kaye three-pointer put UNB up 30-26.
The Panthers pulled to within a single point at the end of the third quarter, trailing 41-40.
Mikaela Dodig(Bolton, ON) hit a couple of threes of her own, as UNB pulled away down the stretch, on route to their fourth win in four starts.
"I felt that was the best team game we've played," said Kaye. "To stay strong together, in the second half. Our team chemistry really kept us in that game."
In the end, Kaye was 5-of-6 from three point range, 4-for-4 from the free throw line, and 6-for-10 from the field.
"I think she's one of the best shooters in the league," said Varsity Reds head coach Jeff Speedy. "She hasn't really showed it yet this season. She had an injury in the summer, which kept her off the court for quite a while, so maybe it's just a little late catching up, or maybe it's a confidence thing."
Disappointed with loss, Panthers forward Jane McLaughlin(Fortune, PE) feels her team played a better game than the night before.
"The start was definitely better," she said.
"We had a lot more movement, we were more ready to go."
Panthers head coach Greg Gould was satisfied with the effort too, with the exception of one area.
"The biggest thing was the rebounding. Other than that, I thought we played reasonably well," said Gould.
"We were losing at points in the third and fourth quarter, so to grind out it out was a pretty good character win," said UNB's Speedy.
The win sets up a clash of 4-and-0 teams, on Friday, when the Varsity Reds visit Saint Mary's.
"It's a good start to the season, but we've got some tough opponents next weekend," said Kaye.
The Panthers travel to Acadia for their next match.