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Axewomen head to AUS Finals after topping Panthers

Haley McDonald scores two of 51 points against UPEI.
Haley McDonald scores two of 51 points against UPEI.

HALIFAX, N.S. - The Acadia Axewomen will be headed to the AUS championship final for the third season in a row after defeating the UPEI Panthers 87-84 on Saturday afternoon at the Scotiabank Centre.

In doing so, third year guard Haley McDonald (Port Williams, N.S.) set a new AUS record for the most points scored in a single game with 51, breaking a 42-year old record. She also added four rebounds and two assists on the night, earning Subway Player of the Game honours.

"My team says it all. They are the best. I had a blast. Today was amazing. The crowd was amazing. There is nothing like this feeling. We can't wait to play tomorrow. We are so excited," said McDonald following her 51 point performance.

I knew we had to keep doing what we were doing. We had a dominating first half. We just wanted to keep doing what was working," added McDonald.

The first quarter opened with the two teams going shot for shot, until the Axewomen began to take off scoring six unanswered points to hold a 16-10 lead with under five remaining in the frame.

The Panthers looked to catch up to the Axewomen lead late in the first, as two successful free throws from Lauren Fleming (Sussex, N.B.) put them within three, 25-22. However, two free throws from McDonald allowed the Axewomen to hold a 27-22 edge after 10 minutes of play. 

McDonald led the Axewomen with a massive 15 points in the first quarter. 

Just 20 seconds into the second frame, Reese Baxendale (Sussex, N.B.) was called for an and-one, picking up three points to bring the Panthers within two. However, UPEI was unable to catch Acadia, as the Axewomen held onto their edge to lead 43-34 lead at halftime.

McDonald drained a three to open the scoring in the third, putting Acadia ahead 46-34. She posted three three-pointers in the third quarter, and finished with 15 points in the frame.

The Panthers looked for the comeback late in the third, as they trailed by a game high 16 points at the 6:14 mark of the quarter.

Acadia held a 10-point lead, 68-58, heading into the final 10 minutes of play.

With the Panthers looking for the comeback in the fourth, a three-point play from Jenna Mae Ellsworth (Charlottetown, P.E.I.) allowed them to pull within six of the Axewomen.

However, the Panthers were unable to complete the comeback, falling 88-84.

Ellen Hatt added 10 points for the Axewomen, while teammates Shalyn Field and Sarsha Cadle dominated the boards with 10 rebounds each. 

Ellsworth lead the Panthers with 28 points and Reese Baxendale added 24.

The Axewomen now advance to the AUS women's basketball finals, where they will face the Memorial Sea-Hawks at 1:00 p.m. Sunday afternoon at the Scotiabank Centre.