The UPEI Panthers went off in the fourth quarter Friday night at the Dalplex, starting the final frame only up by only one point they led by as many as 18 with three minutes left in the game. They went on to win 81-66, after three fiercely contested quarters turned into a blowout in the matter of minutes.
The loss drops the Tigers to 2-11 on the season, while the Panthers now move into second place with a 9-6 record.
Ellis Ffrench had a poor 4-14 shooting performance but was perfect from the line (9-9) and had a game-high 19 points for the Panthers.
Devon Stedman had a double-double for the Tigers with 12 points, 11 rebounds and 7 assists, including four offensive boards.
The Tigers were down 7-3 early before Stedman rose to the rim and slammed it on the Panthers, cutting the lead to two.William Ceasar and Ellis Ffrench then hit back to back three to push the lead to give the Panthers a 12-10 lead.
Ritchie Kanza Mata fed John Traboulsi in the paint with a beautiful no-look bounce pass for an easy layup. UPEI responded with a layup of their own, but Traboulsi answered right back with a three that rattled around the rim before dropping to give the Tigers a brief 14-12 lead.
The Panthers were abusing the Tigers down low early in the game, crashing the offensive glass on every possession.They led 18-17 after the first quarter.
They brought back the press to start the second quarter, which cause all sorts of problems for the Tigers. The Panthers, who have been known for their high flying offense instead of their defensive prowess, forced the issue on the Tigers.
The Tigers started to break through coach Kendrick's stifling press towards the end of the quarter, but it wasn't enough as they still trailed 38-31 going into the half.
The Tigers got out to a 13-4 run to start the corner, spurred on by tough post play by Devon Stedman and Simon Marr. Jarred Reid gave them a 43-42 lead, but it was quickly erased by a Deontay Smith jumper.
The Panthers strong outside ball movement carried them through the fourth quarter, but Chidi Majok grabbed his own rebound after a missed dunk attempt to give the Tigers a 54-53 lead. Aaron Robins answered with a pair of free throws to regain the Panthers lead. The Tigers couldn't convert on their final possession of the quarters and it was a one point game heading into the final ten minutes of play.
One point games versus the Panthers haven't been the Tigers strong suit this season. They lost back to back one point games against the Panthers in November, and were tied with 0.5 seconds left in the Rod Shoveller tournament before Deontay Smith nailed a hail mary from 80 feet away to win it.
Donathan Moss extended UPEI's lead to seven with a three a minute and a half into the final frame, and then tipped a pass to force a Tigers turnover, but Simon Marr gained strong inside defensive position and drew the charge on the athletic forward.
The Panthers got off to a 9-1 run to start the quarter, and the Tigers couldn't get things going offensively early and they struggled from the free throw line, as Derek Norris and Kashrell Lawrence each went 1-2 from the line.
Ritchie Kanza Mata showed his frustration as UPEI's lead increased to ten with five minutes left in the quarter, receiving his fifth foul, forcing him to watch the rest of the game from the bench..
The Panthers took over in the last five minutes, pounding the Tigers offensively and tightening up their defense and not allowing any decent looks for the Tigers. The Panthers outscored the Tigers 26-12 in the final frame.
The two teams will be back in action tomorrow night at the Dalplex at 8:00pm.