In a win-or-go-home scenario, Len Harvey made sure his Acadia Axewomen avoided any letdowns on Friday.
“Urgency, White! Urgency,” the Acadia head coach could be heard hollering during his team’s Atlantic university basketball quarter-final matchup against the Dalhousie Tigers at Scotiabank Centre.
The defending conference champion Axewomen didn’t want a repeat of their final two weeks of the regular season, when they faltered down the stretch and lost their final four games and their chance at a quarter-final bye in the AUS tournament.
“Tighten the screws! Discipline,” Harvey bellowed to his team during a break after the third quarter.
His team responded. The third-ranked Axewomen started the fourth quarter on a 14-5 run and cruised to a 74-54 victory over the No. 6 Tigers.
“We had a rough end to the season so we knew coming into this tournament without the (quarter-final) bye we would have to make the best of it,” said AUS rookie of the year Jayda Veinot, who paced the Axewomen with a game-high 19 points. “It gave us one more game under our belts and hopefully get us into our typical season groove.
“We have some non-negotiables on our team: focus, energy, communication,” Veinot added. “When we don’t bring those, we have a hard time winning. Today, we needed to do those things to play well. I think we were able to keep our sense of urgency up pretty well. We need to keep that going for the weekend.”
The Axewomen advance to semifinals. They’ll face the second-ranked UPEI Panthers in the second game Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m.
The first semifinal has the Memorial Sea-Hawks, who dropped the UNB Reds 79-70 in the earlier quarter-final Friday, taking on the No. 1 Cape Breton Capers at 1 p.m.
Acadia dropped a weekend doubleheader — 76-66 on Feb. 15 and 77-65 the following evening — at UPEI which started the four-game spurt to close the regular season.
“Last time we played them, we dropped two close ones,” said Port Williams’ Veinot, a Horton grad who transferred from Saint Mary’s to Acadia last January.
“We feel like this past week of practice, we prepared really well for this weekend and fixed any problems that we may have had.”
AUS first-team all-star Haley McDonald had 13 points for Acadia while Shalyn Field added 11 off the bench.
Emily Holt topped the Tigers with 11 points and eight rebounds.
Sea-Hawks 79, Reds 70:
Sydney Stewart scored 32 points, 11 in each of the third and fourth quarters, to lead No. 5 Memorial past fourth-ranked UNB.
Eva Tumwine replied with 18 points for the Reds, who had won four straight entering the tournament.
The men’s quarter-finals were held later Friday.
The No. 5 St. Francis Xavier X-Men faced fourth-ranked Cape Breton and No. 6 Memorial played third-seeded Dalhousie.
From the abyss of a winless season, the Cape Breton Capers are heading to the Final 6 semifinals two years later.
Third-year guard Paul Watson, who endured through an 0-20 campaign during his rookie year and a 2-18 season in 2017-18, had 19 points – 17 in the first half – and nine rebounds to pace the fourth-ranked Capers to an 89-66 victory over the No. 5 St. Francis Xavier X-Men in quarter-final action Friday evening in Halifax.
Watson, the conference’s defensive player of the year, wasn’t interested in bringing up the past.
“We don’t even worry about the last couple years,” he said. “We have focused on just this year, making improvements and setting the culture not from two years ago but from now and future years to come.”
AUS leading scorer Osman Omar scored a game-high 22 points, Reuben Edwards had 16, Eugene Kankue 13 and Shacier Locke 12 for CBU, which will face the top-ranked Saint Mary’s Huskies in the semifinals Saturday at 6:30 p.m.
Justin Andrew answered with 12 points for St. F.X.
Tigers 83, Sea-Hawks 59:
Third-seeded Dalhousie sailed to an easy victory over No. 6 Memorial in the late quarter-final Friday.
Alex Carson collected 16 points, Keenan Veinot 13 and Xavier Ochu 10 for the Tigers, who had all 12 players get some floor time.
The Tigers will face No. 2 UNB in the 8:30 p.m. semifinal on Saturday.
Nathan Barker netted 19 points for MUN.