HALIFAX - The Acadia Axewomen won their second AUS basketball championship in six years, and just their third in 66 years, beating UPEI 80-58 Sunday afternoon at Scotiabank Centre. Looking fresher and sharper than their opponents from the opening tip, Acadia held the Panthers to 17 per cent shooting from the floor over the first 15 minutes.
Acadia, which had a first-round bye and a regular season record of 18-2, got to the final with a semifinal victory over Saint Mary’s, while UPEI downed UNB and Cape Breton.
“Our third game in three days, and we had kids who played 40 minutes the first game, 40 minutes the second game and 40 minutes today. That’s tough,” said Panthers coach Greg Gould. “I’m proud of my kids, I think they fought really hard. Acadia’s a really good team, ranked number three in the country for a reason.”
Axewomen post Alexandra Berry, of Yarmouth, was a dominant force, posting a double-double in the first quarter. She finished with 20 points and 14 rebounds despite being limited to 23 minutes because of foul trouble.
“I did not know that,” she said of the double double. “I’m excited, I think we played really well today and this championship, we worked really hard for it. It means a lot. I knew the 2012 girls really well, they were a great team and I’m happy we got to grab another championship and bring it home.”
Acadia’s dominance was most clearly exhibited on the boards, as the Axewomen outrebounded the Panthers by a margin of 65-48.
“We knew we wanted to get on the glass against them, for sure, and…these guys were in, possibly, their last game so they’ve got to play that way. (Berry) was solid for us all season, but this was pretty spectacular, a nice way for her to finish in the Atlantic conference,” said coach Len Harvey, whose game plan called for a quick tempo. “Our style of game fits that strategy, probably, but our pace was solid and it’s tough to win three games over three days.”
Conference and tournament MVP Paloma Anderson had 18 points for the winners, while Chanel Smith added 17 and Ellen Hatt 11.
Acadia lost last year’s conference championship game to Cape Breton.
“This crew was a non-playoff team so to see the progression over the last few years is fantastic,” said Harvey, in his third year in Wolfville.
Jenna Mae Ellsworth had 21 points for UPEI,
Joining Anderson on the tournament all-star team were Berry and teammate Haley McDonald, along with Ellsworth and her teammate Reese Baxendale.
The Axewomen are seeded third for the U Sports national championship in Regina and will face No. 6 Saskatchewan on Thursday at 10 p.m. (AT).