(FREDERICTON, NB) The UNB REDS rallied late in regulation on Saturday night and needed overtime to beat the UPEI Panthers 82-79.
The REDS win came thanks to some late-game heroics from first-year guard Marcus Barnes (Kitchener, ON).
"I feel good for this team," said REDS' head coach Joe Salerno. "They've been in a couple of close games this season already. So, to finally have one come out on our end and get stops when we needed to close out a win is a good feeling."
Barnes, named Subway Player of the Game, was able to hit an improbable three-point shot at the buzzer to tie the game and send it to overtime.
"It didn't even seem real at first," said Barnes. "I just chucked up the ball. But as soon as the team started to swarm me it felt great. I thought this gave us the momentum to come back in the overtime."
The Panthers came out of the gate flying with an 8-0 run, thanks to two big three-pointers, jumping out to an early lead.
"Our game plan was to get out into transition and get some easy shot opportunities to start the game," said Panthers head coach Darrell Glenn. "We made all shots early and that really helped."
UNB was able to battle back though as Malik Grant (Brampton, ON) would hit two three-pointers to close the gap to 18-16 to end the first.
The teams battled back and forth in the second quarter. UNB grabbing their first lead of the game with just a minute left in the second quarter after Norm Burry (Grafton, NB) set up Mark Tobin (Mount Pearl, NL) for the three-pointer to give UNB a narrow 35-34 margin.
A lay-up in the dying seconds by Haany Ahmed (Richmond Hill, ON) closed the second half with UNB holding a 37-36 lead.
Both teams traded baskets coming out of the half.
A three-point shot from Burry kicked off an 8-0 UNB run. But the Panthers were able to claw back thanks to some great perimeter shooting led by Isaiah Ankra (North York, ON) who hit a shot from outside to put UPEI up 56-54 heading into the final quarter.
In the fourth, both teams played staunch defense, not giving up an inch as the Panthers continued to lead 66-59 before chaos ensued.
The REDS were able to fight back thanks to some solid work by Burry on the boards and solid shooting from Brett Speedy (Fredericton, NB) to close the gap to 71-70 with just 22 seconds left to play.
The REDS defence then forced the Panthers to miss a shot, giving the REDS a chance to go ahead. But Burry missed the go-ahead lay-up.
UNB fouled on the ensuring play and the Panthers made both free throws, surely securing the victory with just 1.9 seconds left on the clock.
With a last chance to tie the game, Barnes took an inbound pass off a screen and heaved up the miracle shot that went in, sending the game into overtime.
"I wasn't able to do my normal shooting form," said Barnes. "But I knew I had to get up the shot and just threw it. As soon as it left my hands, I thought it felt good."
In overtime, Barnes continued to lead the way for the REDS scoring five of his team-leading 21 points in the extra frame to give UNB the lead.
Forward Vegas Evans (Brampton, ON) came up with two big blocks in the final minutes of overtime to keep UNB ahead 79-78, but the Panthers kept fighting.
A late foul by Tobin set up Sam Chisholm (Bridgetown, NS) with a chance to put UPEI ahead by one with just a second remaining, but he missed both free throws and allowed UNB to hold onto the lead and close out the game.
"We really needed this win," said Barnes. "We came out slow to start the season, so we really needed these four points to put us on the right path for the rest of the season."
UNB moves to 2-5 on the season and sits tied for fifth place in the Atlantic University Sport standings heading into the final week of regular season play before the winter break.
"An overtime win like this against a very tough opponent is going to give us nothing but confidence," said Coach Salerno. "With this young group confidence is important."
Meanwhile, the Panthers move are now 5-2 and have two crucial four-point games against Saint Mary's and Dalhousie before the break.
"We want to get better every night out," said Glenn. "This is a long grind and a tough league to play in. We're going to learn and grow from this to come back and try to be better next weekend."
RECAP BY: Evan Richtsfeld/UNB Athletics
PHOTOS BY: James West/for UNB Athletics