WOLFVILLE, N.S. - Every second mattered in this close home-opener between the Acadia Axemen and the UPEI Panthers, but it was the Panthers who came out on top 71-69.
The Axemen spent much of the first and second quarter playing from behind, but the hard work of Acadia scorers Junior Moaku-Matia (Hamilton, Ont.) and Nick De Palma (Bedford, N.S.) ensured that the Axemen would not be left behind
Moaku-Matia ended the game 18-5-1 and was named the Axemen's Player of the Game.
After an energetic second quarter, the score was tied 37-37. A large portion of the Panthers' points from the first half was from their 6 successful three-pointers.
Going into the third quarter, the tone for the rest of the game had been established - neither squad was going to be the first to show weakness. One strong run from either side would leave the other in the dust, but the score stayed close.
The scoring differential remained low right down to the last few minutes. It could have been anyone's game.
With 8 seconds left to play, the Axemen remained behind by a mere point. An untimely foul by the Panthers gave De Palma two chances from the free throw line to tie or win the game, but both were missed. The Panthers responded with two foul shots of their own, bringing their lead to 3
In a last-second effort, Jacques Lukusa (Ottawa, Ont.) made a desperation shot from deep that drew a foul, awarding him 3 foul shots. Lukusa was successful on his second shot, and his third was almost tipped in off his rebound, but luck was not with the Axemen.
The Panthers kept their lead until the buzzer, giving them the 71-69 victory
Amin Sulemen's (Toronto, Ont.) presence was felt all over the court tonight - putting up 12 points, grabbing 4 rebounds, and adding 3 assists for the Panthers. His well-rounded play secured him the Subway Player of the Game award.
Milorad Sedlarevic posted a game-high 22 points and was five for seven from the three-point arc.
The Axemen will look to even the two-game series tomorrow against the Panthers tomorrow at 8:00 p.m.
Submitted by Theodor Giesen, Acadia Athletics Communications.