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Smith drains hail mary, Panthers edge Tigers 80-77

Smith drains hail mary, Panthers edge Tigers 80-77

No matter where you're reading this from, you're probably within Deontay Smith's range.

Tied at 75 with 0.5 seconds left, Smith chucked up a hail mary from 80 feet away and banked it off the backboard to win the game. Every jaw in the crowd at the Dalplex dropped as no one could believe their eyes.

For the third time this season, the Tigers lost to the Panthers on the final possession. This marks the sixth time that the Tigers lost by three or fewer points.

UPEI jumped on Dalhousie early and often, with a relentless full court press forcing five turnovers in the first three minutes.

Frustrated from the lackluster ball control being shown by his starters, Rick Plato quick subbed his entire starting lineup out for five reserves.

The Tigers offense looked completely lifeless until Ryan Harnett drained a wide open three.

The Panthers tough defense came at a price, however, as they found themselves over the limit with three minutes left in the quarter and Derek Norris made them pay, making both shot from the charity stripe right away.

John Traboulsi nailed a three to tie the game at 17, but William Caesar responded with a three of his own, right in Ryan Harnett's face. Traboulsi hustled down the floor and hit his second consecutive three.

The Panthers ended up forcing nine turnovers on the quarter and finished the quarter with a 26-21 lead.

The teams traded buckets to start the second quarter, and the game was at 32-31 when Deontay Smith blew past three defenders and converted the tough double-clutch layup.

Chidi Majok was caught sleeping with three minutes left in the quarter and Brian Ofori blew past him for the emphatic reverse jam to give the Panthers a four-point lead.

The score was tied at 38 with 16.4 seconds and it was Panthers possession and Tim Kendrick called a quick timeout. After inbounding the ball, Joe Kendrick drove the lane but Derek Norris came up huge defensively and drew the charge, giving the Tigers possession. Norris fired the ball up court to Simon Marr, who was waiting at the three-point line, who banked in a three at the buzzer.

The buzzer-beater proved to be the difference as the Tigers held a 41-38 lead going into the half. They were hot from the perimeter, shooting 83.3% (5-6) in the half. The Panthers made the most of their trips to the line, going 7-7.

Donathan Moss paced the Panthers in the first half, dropping 11 points on 4-7 shooting.

Ritchie Kanza Mata slashed in through the Panthers defense to start the second half, but UPEI answered with five quick points, including a three from Geoff Doane.

After Nathan Smith was charged with an offensive foul, Lorenzo Parker hit a quick three to tie the game at 50 with five minutes left in the quarter.

With the score at 56-52, Lorenzo Parker hoisted up a quick fast-break three with 30 seconds left, but Ryan Harnett came out of nowhere to block him from behind. John Traboulsi then went down the court to hit his third three of the night.

The three set the stage for an exciting fourth quarter as the Tigers trailed the Panthers 56-55. This was a familiar situation for the two teams, as the Panthers edged the Tigers in both games the teams played by only a single point.

Kashrell Lawrence exploded for the defensive rebound off a missed three by Joe Kendrick and stormed down the floor, but missed a contested layup to start the fourth quarter. Lawrence then was tagged for his fourth foul on the next possession, bringing the AUS field goal percentage to the bench early.

The Panthers jumped on weak interior defense by the Tigers, as Joe Kendrick go past Jarred Reid to grab the offensive board, and was fouled as he went back up. He went to the line and hit both of his free throws to give the Panthers a 61-57 lead.

Devon Stedman answered with an offensive rebound of his own, and kicked it back out to Kanza Mata. Kanza Mata then found Stedman wide open, and the 6'8" forward nailed a deep two.

Both teams were cold offensively to start the final quarter, and the score was 65-63 for the Panthers with 5:41 left after Stedman converted on both of his free throws.

The Panthers swung the ball around and former CIS rookie of the year Deontay Smith drove the lane and was fouled on his way up, but missed both of his free throws.

John Traboulsi hit a floater after grabbing an offensive board and tied the game at 65 with only five minutes left to play.

UPEI then grabbed another offensive board, and Deontay Smith hit a deep three in Kanza Mata's face to give the Panthers a 68-65 lead. He tried the exact same thing the next possession, jacking a three in John Traboulsi's face, but he could not convert.

Sven Stammberger then converted the hoop and the harm to even the game at 68.

With 2:40 left on the clock forward Simon Marr found himself being guard down low by the smaller Deontay Smith. Kanza Mata tried to feed him, but Smith came up with the huge steal and the Panthers pushed the ball up the court for the fast break bucket.

The Panthers held a 76-72 lead with 1:30 left, but the Tigers came up with a key stop. Derek Norris then fed Devon Stedman down in the post, and he managed to absorb the contact from Aaron Robbins and got the and-one to go, fouling Robbins out in the process.

Down one with a minute left, Devon Stedman came up with a huge steal. Jarred Reid pulled up for three, but could not convert.

With no other choice, Traboulsi fouled Lorenzo Parker, sending him to the line with nine seconds on the clock. Parker hit his first shot, but missed his second.

The Tigers grabbed the rebound and got it to Kanza Mata, who charged up the court. After passing the ball around the perimeter quickly, Kanza Mata got the ball back and drove the lane. He tossed up a floater with 0.5 and the it dropped to tie the game at 77.

And that's when the unbelievable happened.

Deontay Smith got the ball around the foul line and threw up a prayer. You could hear a pin drop as the ball sailed through the air, and it banked off the rim and went right in, winning the game for the Panthers.

You can bet that one will be on national TV sometime this week.

Donathan Moss had 20 points to lead the Panthers, while Geoff Doane and Deontay Smith each added 16.

Devon Stedman led all scorers with 24 points and added 11 boards in the loss for the Tigers. John Traboulsi provided production off the bench with 11 points and four rebounds.