X-Women handle Panthers 80-55 in AUS quarterfinal game

Photo credit David Cox
Photo credit David Cox

Halifax, NS – The fifth place STFX X-Women defeated the fourth place UPEI Panthers 80-55 in the AUS quarterfinal game Friday afternoon at the Scotiabank Centre.

Player of the Game Shannon Neita led the STFX offensive attack with 17 points and hauled in 11 rebounds as the X offence was firing on all cylinders and the defence did their job to shut down the Panthers.

X-Women head coach Matt Spencer was really pleased with how his team played, noting after the game, "We have a group of young women who bought into doing it together, they kept the energy high and they stuck to a plan. We have a remarkable self-belief that is rooted in the work they have done, as was evidenced on the court today and I couldn't be more proud."

Krissy Cooper netted the first basket of the game for the X-Women, but then the Panthers went on a 7-0 run. A three pointer by X guard Avery Walker pulled the game to 7-5.

Ekaterina Karchevskaya nailed a three-pointer midway through the quarter to give STFX the 8-7 edge, they the teams traded baskets for remainder of quarter.

Samantha Zoffranieri drained a three at buzzer for UPEI to give them a 19-16 lead after the first quarter.

The second quarter remained tight, then the X-Women started to pull away and were up by six points, 29-23 four minutes in.

Lauren Neeve hit from three-point range for X midway through the quarter to give them a 34-26 lead, then a hoop and harm from Katie Upham made it 37-26 in STFX's favour.

The X-Women were up 47-37 at halftime after outpacing the Panthers 31-18 in the second frame. Krissy Cooper scored 12 points in the opening half, including a pair of three-pointers. Upham netted 11 for STFX while UPEI's Lauren Rainford was their leading scorer with seven.

The game remained scoreless for opening two minutes of the third quarter.

AUS recipient for the national Tracy MacLeod Award Avery Walker demonstrated why she exhibits "determination, perseverance, and unwavering spirit to continue playing" as she returned in the third quarter after dislocating a finger late in the second and leaving the court.

With her fingers taped, Walker noted, "I just wanted to play really badly and get back out there. It was an incredible effort by the team today and I am so proud of everyone, on the bench, off the bench; our team has come a long way."

STFX held a 52-43 lead over the Panthers midway through third quarter. Veteran forward Liz Kennedy sunk a three with two minutes left to give her X-Women squad a 59-43 lead.

The score was 62-47 for STFX after 30 minutes, as the X-Women outscored the Panthers 15-10 in the third quarter.

Walker drained a basket from beyond the arc to start the fourth quarter, then added consecutive jumpers to give STFX a 7-0 run and a commanding 69-47 lead two minutes in.

The X-Women maintained their 20-point advantage for the remainder of the quarter as after being up 75-51 with two and a half minutes left to play, closed out the 80-55 victory as the deficit was too big for the Panthers to overcome.

Upham finished with 13 points for the X-Women, while Karchevskaya and Cooper each contributed 12 points. Cooper also joined Neita with a double-double game, pulling in 11 rebounds. Walker scored 10 off the X bench.

Lauren Rainford was the leading scorer for the Panthers with 13 points, while Aiden Rainford scored 10 and had seven rebounds.

With the win, the X-Women advance to the first AUS semifinal game on Saturday to take on the Saint Mary's Huskies.

"Obviously Saint Mary's is the number one team with a 17-3 record," commented Coach Spencer. "We haven't had success against them yet, but X-Women Basketball was on display today and we showed we are a tough team to play against and X is not going to be an easy out."

Tip-off for the semifinal game is at 1:00 pm at Scotiabank Centre. The X-Men basketball team follow in a STFX doubleheader in their own semifinal match, against either UNB or Memorial.


Recap courtesy Krista McKenna, STFX Athletics

Tournament Honourary Chair Steve Konchalski (former longtime X-Men Basketball head coach) presents X-Women guard Shannon Neito with the player of the game award following their quarterfinal win. (photo credit Nick Pearce)