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Ffrench leads Panthers to victory over Tigers in OT thriller

Ffrench leads Panthers to victory over Tigers in OT thriller

The Dalhousie Tigers and UPEI Panthers gave the crowd a show but in the end it was the Panthers who came out on top as they defeated the Tigers 95-88 in overtime in the opening game of the AUS season. The Tigers got into foul trouble late and just couldn't keep up with the Panthers in the final minutes of the game.

Veteran guard Ellis Ffrench had 27 points to lead the Panthers, while Tyler Scott added 25 points to go along with six boards.

Kashrell Lawrence had a double-double in the loss for the Tigers, posting a game-high 31 points and 11 boards. The Tigers were without star big man Devon Stedman, who was out with a lower-body injury.

Brad States slammed down a thundering jam off a slap pass from Tyler Scott in the first play of the game to get the crowd into the game. The new-look Tigers squad limited the Panthers to just nine points in the quarter as they opened up a seven point lead. Both teams showed signs of rust in the first quarter, but things opened up in the second quarter as both teams started to find their groove offensively.

Going into the half, the Tigers held a 35-31 lead.

The third quarter was an all-out war as both teams fought for precious points. Third-year Tigers forward Kashrell Lawrence went to work in the paint, draining 14 points of his 31 points in the quarter. The Panthers answered with a team effort and Geoff Doane tied the game at 57 with a layup with 14 seconds left.

Early in the fourth quarter, the Panthers opened up a six point lead 2:30 into the game. Ritchie Kanza Mata answered with a three, but Brad States came right back and drew a foul on Kanza Mata, and he made one of two free throws to bring the Panthers lead back to four.

The Tigers got in foul trouble early and were in the bonus just three minutes into the quarter.

With just under five minutes, Kanza Mata found Sven Stammberger on the wing and the Halifax native drained a game-tying three that brought the packed Dalplex crowd to their feet. After a subsequent timeout by the Panthers, Tyler Scott answered right back with a contested layup to put the Panthers up two.

Jarred Reid grabbed an offensive board and tied the game at 79 with a minute left, but Tyler Scott calmly answered with a pair of free throws after drawing a foul of Kanza Mata, fouling him out. The Tigers faced a two point deficit without their two top scorers, as Lawrence had fouled out minutes before.

Miki Sedlarevic had the opportunity to make it a two possession game with 30 second left, but he missed his first free throw to make it 82-79 for the Panthers. It proved to be costly as Sean Dodds knocked down a huge corner three to tie the game at 82 with 11 seconds left.

After a UPEI timeout, Tyler Scott took the ball up top in an isolation play against Cedric Sanogo. Sanogo held his ground and put up good pressure on Scott, forcing a miss that sent the game to overtime.

Sedlarevic left nothing at the line with 3:20 left as he sank both to open the scoring in overtime. The teams traded buckets and traded leads, but Ellis Ffrench's free throws with 1:30 left proved to be the difference as the Panthers walked away with a 95-88 victory.

The teams meet again tomorrow night at the Dalplex. Tip off is at 8:00pm.