By Thomas Becker
Dalhousie's top-ranked defence was too much to handle for a powerful Panthers team, as they narrowly escaped with a 79-78 win Saturday night.
With the game on the line, UPEI's Tyler Scott got free from his defender and missed the game-winning jumper, silencing the home crowd.
"I didn't think we played well enough to win that game," said head coach Tim Kendrick.
The difference came in the second quarter when the low-scoring Tigers overpowered their opponent 27-18.
"I thought that second quarter was our worst quarter in awhile."
UPEI grabbed a quick lead on back-to-back threes for an early 8-2 advantage, but Dalhousie countered with a 13-5 run to move ahead 15-13.
The Panthers stranded some points at the rim, missing on a couple of easy lay-ins, but still took the first quarter 22-20.
Brad States led the way with eight points, while Dalhousie's Ritchie Kanza Mata countered with seven of his own.
The Panthers opened the second quarter on 9-6 run, extending their lead 31-26, but the Tigers battled back to even the score at 33 apiece.
Poor offensive execution by UPEI allowed Dalhousie to pull ahead 39-35, forcing the home team to call a timeout.
But the timeout did little to help, as the Panthers' league-leading offence was held in check, scoring just 18 points in the second.
Dalhousie's Sven Stammberger scored 13 in the quarter to help his squad take a 47-40 lead at halftime.
Both teams struggled to find their rhythm in the third until Tyler Scott took over, scoring the team's first five points of the second half, cutting the deficit to two.
The Panthers held the Tigers scoreless for the first four minutes of the third to move ahead 49-47.
The two teams traded baskets for the remainder of the quarter in an even 64-64 affair. Scott scored 16 of his 23 points in the third quarter, lifting his team up from the seven-point deficit. But late-game foul trouble forced Scott to sit opening the fourth.
Down five with 2:15 remaining, the Panthers made their final push, scoring six in a row to take a one-point lead.
But with 30 seconds remaining, Dalhousie found Kashrell Lawrence in the post for two of his 16 total points, enough for the 79-78 win.
"Credit Dalhousie, they played tough and they deserved to win," said Kendrick.
With the win, the Tigers (9-4) move into a tie with the Panthers (9-3) for first place in the AUS standings.
The Panthers hit the road next, when they face the Cape Breton University Capers for a two-game set beginning Friday, January 29 at 8 p.m., while Dalhousie hosts Acadia Saturday, January 30 in the Varsity Showdown at Scotiabank Centre.