(FREDERICTON, NB) In a battle of 4-and-2 teams, the UNB REDS and the UPEI Panthers fought a close contest on Saturday evening, at UNB's Richard J. Currie Center.
In the end, Lauren Rainford (Toronto, ON) scored a game-high 20 points to lead the Panthers to a 69-58 win in a critical four-point game.
"We came in a little unfocused, but once we had a little time to settle in, we locked in on our defence and that's how we pulled it out," said Rainford, named Subway Player of the Game.
The REDS roared out of the gate, building an 13-0 lead through the first three minutes, forcing an early Panthers time-out.
The Panthers responded, scoring nine of the next 11 points, trimming UNB's lead to 15-9.
After one quarter, the REDS led 24-15.
In the second, the young Panthers held the momentum, scoring the first four points of the quarter before Jennifer Nkuak (Brampton, ON) answered for the home team.
When the Panthers closed to within five, at 26-21, it was the REDS calling time-out.
With just over two minutes to play in the second, UPEI drew even 26-26, later taking a 28-26 lead.
Kylee Speedy (Fredericton, NB) sunk a bucket just before the half expired and the teams went to halftime tied 28-28.
"Defence is, really, our identity," said Rainford. "Our offence is a little stagnant and we have to force shots and stick to our principles, and I think we did that really well in the second quarter."
In the second half, the Panthers defence continued to cause problems for the REDS.
UPEI limited UNB to just 12 third quarter points, while scoring 20 to go up 48-40.
Both teams struggled to score in the early moments of the final quarter. The score remained unchanged through the first three minutes.
The Panthers continued their aggressive play on offence, outscoring the REDS 21-18 in the quarter, on route to the 69-58 win.
"I hope everybody is as disappointed as I am," said REDS head coach Jeff Speedy. "I thought they played extremely hard and extremely confident and with a lot of urgency, and I thought we played really passive."
"We were passive with the ball in our hands, we were passive defensively and any time a mistake happened we lost confidence," he added.
Speedy led the REDS with 19 points off the bench, while Katie Butts (Ottawa, ON) recorded a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds.
Karla Yepez Villamorin (Quito, Ecuador) added 18 points and seven rebounds for the Panthers.
The loss was the third straight for the REDS, who opened the season with four consecutive wins.
"I didn't do a good enough job figuring out how to get them to play the way they can," said Speedy.
With the win, the Panthers take over second place in the Atlantic University Sport standings with their 5-2 record.
UNB, now 4-3, sits fourth.
Both teams return to action on Friday.
UPEI visits Saint Mary's while the REDS will be in Sydney to take on Cape Breton.
Both games are scheduled to tip-off at 6:00pm.
RECAP BY: Andy Campbell/UNB Athletics
PHOTOS BY: James West/for UNB Athletics