Panthers’ league-leading defence returns to form in 77-59 win over UNB

Panthers’ league-leading defence returns to form in 77-59 win over UNB

By Thomas Becker 

After allowing 164 points in two games at Memorial, UPEI's defence returned to form Saturday night, as they stifled the UNB Reds in a 77-59 win. 

Jenna Mae Ellsworth led the way both offensively and defensively with 24 points and five steals. Jane McLaughlin and Karla Yepez also reached double figures with 14 and 12 points, respectively. 

"We came in with a loss and we just wanted to pick it up on defence," said Ellsworth, who was named the Subway Player of the Game. "We've been playing good defence all year long and we needed to be better tonight." 

Ellsworth and Yepez got it going early for the Panthers (13-2) and combined for 10 points, as they opened the game on a 13-4 run. 

UPEI continued to shoot the ball with confidence and doubled up their opponent 26-13 by the end of the quarter, where they shot a blistering 73.3 per cent. 

"We always try to get off to good starts. We're always looking to push the pace and get easy baskets," said Ellsworth, whose team scored 52 points in the paint, eight of which came on the fast break.

The Reds' (9-7) defence locked in early in the second and held the home team to just five points over a five-minute period. But they'd catch fire again with five straight field goals to push the lead 42-26.

Ellsworth led the way with 14 points at the half, where the Panthers led 48-26. Mikaela Dodig, meanwhile, countered with 10 of her team-high 12 points.

A slower paced third quarter limited UPEI to just 14 points, but UNB didn't fair much better with 16. Ellsworth continued to fuel her team from the point and had 20 by the end of the frame, as UPEI took command 62-42 heading into the fourth. 

The Panthers pride themselves on playing good defence and didn't let up with game in hand. UPEI held the Reds to just 35.4 per cent shooting on the night and made them pay with 17 points off 12 turnovers, as they took the game 77-59. 

"We've been working on getting back to who we've been," said Panthers' head coach Matt Gamblin. "We're a defensive team. We guard every possession. We stop the ball in transition… Overall, we were much better today than we were last week."

UPEI hits the road next Sunday where they'll take on the Dalhousie Tigers. Tip off is set for 1 p.m.

Photo Credit: Janessa Hogan