CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - In order to be considered the nation's top team, you need your starters to compete at a high level.
And the U Sports No. 1 ranked Acadia Axewomen (7-0) did just that Saturday night as all five starters scored in double figures and combined for 79 points, as they took care of the UPEI Panthers 84-63.
Subway Player of the Game Paloma Anderson continued her bid for the MVP award, putting together another solid game with 19 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists. Anderson was one of three Axewomen who recorded a double-double. Katie Ross finished with a game-high 20 points and 10 rebounds, while teammate Alexandra Berry notched 14 points and 11 boards.
"Anderson's tough and she's starting to play within the system which makes us even scarier as a team," said Axewomen head coach Len Harvey. "Everybody's putting up points and she's not sacrificing any of the stuff that she has to do."
The teams traded baskets early, but back-to-back jumpers by Anderson and Chanel Smith gave Acadia an early 10-7 lead.
Down five, the Panthers (2-5) stormed back on a deep three by Karla Yepez followed by a Jenna Mae Ellsworth layup to tie it 14 apiece.
Anderson led all scorers with 12 in the opening quarter, where the Axewomen held a slim 18-16 advantage.
The nation's top team opened the second on an 8-0 run and pushed their lead to 26-16. The Panthers, meanwhile, couldn't buy a basket and were ice-cold from the field where they shot just 25 per cent.
Led by the steady play of Anderson, Acadia continued to push the pace, outscoring UPEI 29-16 while extending the lead to 47-32 by halftime.
The Panthers came out of the break fired up and outscored Acadia 11-2 in the early minutes, trimming the deficit 49-43. Ellsworth was the catalyst in the extended run, scoring five of her eight points in the quarter. She finished with a team-high 15 points.
However, the Axewomen withstood the furious attack and pushed the lead back up to 59-45 behind a 10-2 run. Ross found her stroke in the quarter, drilling a pair of threes and scoring nine in the third, where they led 65-52.
"Katie was due," Harvey said. "She just came off the soccer field a few weeks ago, so it was nice to see her break out a bit today."
The veteran-laden Axewomen conceded nothing in final quarter and maintained their disciplined play by limiting their opponent to just 22.2 per cent shooting, while shooting 50 per cent themselves to close it out 84-63.
The Panthers will return to action in the New Year when they travel to Antigonish to take on the St. FX X-Women on Jan. 6 at 6 p.m.
The Axewomen return to action over the Holiday period at Saint Mary's in the Thunder Select Tournament, December 28-30 before returning to the AUS regular season on Thursday, January 4 versus Saint Mary's on home court starting at 6:00 p.m.
Contributed by Thomas Becker, UPEI Athletics Communications