Charlottetowm PEI - In a stunning turnaround, the UPEI Panthers completely flipped the narrative on the STFX X-Men, securing an impressive 80-61 win Saturday night.
Just a day ago, the undefeated X-Men (3-1) emerged victorious behind their stifling defence, but this time, the Panthers (2-2) had the last say, thanks to a dominant defensive game plan.
One player who epitomized the Panthers' fearless approach was Jace Colley. Colley attacked the rim with relentless aggression, and his performance was nothing short of spectacular. He finished with a game-high 28 points, showcasing his scoring ability and being a constant threat to the X-Men's defence. He also recorded a double-double with 10 rebounds, while adding four assists, a steal, and a block.
Another key contributor for the Panthers was Kyree Thompson, who came off the bench and provided a much-needed spark. Thompson's 15 points were instrumental in stretching the lead, and his defensive prowess was equally impressive. He recorded four steals, disrupting STFX's offensive flow and contributing to the Panthers' strong defensive effort.
From the opening tip-off, it was clear that the Panthers were prepared to make a statement. They were determined to avenge their previous loss, and their defensive intensity set the tone for the entire game.
Both teams struggled to score in a gritty opening quarter that saw the Panthers lead 16-12. The second quarter was a much different story for the Panthers, who consistently attacked the basket at will. Colley followed an and-one with another layup to give UPEI a 27-17 advantage.
After STFX trimmed it to six, Colley went on another 5-0 run that included another and-one to extend the lead to 32-21. Then, it was Thompson's turn to shine. In the final 1:30 of the half, the sophomore guard stole the ball and went in for the uncontested layup before sending the home crowd into frenzy with a four-point play that gave the Panthers a 46-26 lead at halftime.
Much like how the game started, the second half was a fierce defensive battle where both teams struggled to score. Kamari Scott was the only player who found any offensive rhythm, as he scored eight of his 12 points in the third quarter to go along with five rebounds and a block.
Despite carrying a 62-37 lead into the fourth, UPEI head coach Darrell Glenn wasn't leaving anything to chance. Colley and Scott played heavy minutes down the stretch and helped the Panthers lock up their second win of the season.
The Panthers head to Fredericton next Friday where they'll take on the UNB Reds, while the X-Men travel to Newfoundland for a two-game set against the Memorial Sea-Hawks.
Recap courtesy Thomas Becker, UPEI Athletics