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Stewart superb for Lady Birds

Taz Uddin photo/Memorial University — Memorial Sea-Hawks fifth-year guard Sydney Stewart of Sarnia, Ont. put on a clinic against the first-place UPEI Panthers Sunday, recording a triple-double with 33 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in an 88-81 win.
Taz Uddin photo/Memorial University — Memorial Sea-Hawks fifth-year guard Sydney Stewart of Sarnia, Ont. put on a clinic against the first-place UPEI Panthers Sunday, recording a triple-double with 33 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in an 88-81 win. - Memorial University

Sea-Hawks solidify hold on last playoff berth with upset win over first-place Panthers

Sydney Stewart had 33 points as part of a triple-double as the Memorial Sea-Hawks held off a University of Prince Edward Island second-half rally for an 88-81 win over the conference-leading Panthers in Atlantic University Sport women’s basketball Sunday afternoon in St. John’s.

The Sea-Hawks’ victory came a day after they had dropped a tough 77-75 decision to visiting UPEI.

In that one, it was Memorial which had come close to turning a comeback into a victory. On Sunday at the Field House, the roles were reversed, with the home side up by 12 at halftime, only to watch as the Panthers whittled away at the lead, eventually tying the score 75-75 with four-and-a-half minutes left.

But the Sea-Hawks persevered, led by Stewart, who in one 70-second stretch in the late going, had five points (on a layup and a three-pointer), three rebounds, a block and an assist.

It was a big victory in more ways than one. Firstly, it was over a UPEI team that came to St. John’s with just one loss this season. Secondly, it solidified the hold Memorial (5-9) has on the sixth and final playoff spot in the conference. The Sea-Hawks lead the seventh-place Saint Mary’s Huskies by six points.

Memorial has a half-dozen games left, including two against the Huskies in Halifax next month. Next weekend, the Sea-Hawks are in Antigonish. N.S., for a pair of four-points games against winless St. FX.

On Sunday, Stewart added 11 rebounds, 10 assists and five steals to her stats line, while Sydney Ezekiel contributed 20 points.

Haillie Nickerson came close to a double-double off the bench with 18 points and nine rebounds.

Reese Baxendale (24 points) and Jenna Mae Ellsworth (20) were the top point-getters for UPEI (12-2), while the Panthers’ Carolina del Santo had 22 rebounds, including 19 in the defensive end.

On Saturday, UPEI got 71 of its 77 points from starters, including 18 each from Ellsworth and Baxendale, plus 18 rebounds from del Santo as the Panthers survived a Sea-Hawk’s late charge.

Memorial got much more from its bench — Nickerson led all of Memorial’s scorers with 15 points, while Cameron Longley grabbed 11 rebounds — but it wasn’t quite enough.

Stewart (14 point, eight rebounds), Ezekiel (13 points, nine rebounds) and Jane Baird (13 points) were the top scorers among the Sea-Hawks’ starters Saturday.

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