HALIFAX (U SPORTS) – The Victoria Vikes survived a fourth quarter comeback by the UPEI Panthers to win 93-92 in their quarter-final game at the 2023 U SPORTS Men’s Final 8 on Friday at the Scotiabank Centre in Halifax.
The Vikes steadily worked up to a 22-13 lead partway through the first quarter, but Kamari Scott put up 12 of the Panthers’ 21 points to help them claw back the deficit and end the quarter down by one.
UPEI started rolling in the second quarter, matching the top-ranked Vikes’ offence as second-year guard Olivier St-Pierre hit three of his four shots from beyond the arc and went four-for-five from the floor in the second quarter. Victoria’s Diego Maffia, the player of the year in Canada West, ended the half with 21 points, leading the Vikes to a 56-47 advantage at halftime.
The second half started in a frenzy, with both teams scoring quick baskets. The pace slowed down after a timeout halfway through the quarter, and the Vikes maintained a 10-point lead for several minutes. A mid-range jumper by Elijah Miller, the AUS most valuable player, turned the tide for the Panthers as they closed the gap to only five, 77-72, heading into the final frame.
UPEI continued to work in the fourth, as they went on a 10-0 run to start the period and took an 82-77 lead with 7:42 left. Sensing a potential upset, the Maritime crowd started to get behind the Panthers. UPEI maintained their lead until Maffia tied the game at 90 with 1:10 left. Kamari Scott put the Panthers back up by two with less than a minute to go, but it was Maffia who had the final word, as the Oak Bay High graduate drained a three-pointer with 30 seconds left to win the game for Victoria.
Miller was named the Nike Top Performer for the Panthers after coming alive in the second half and recording 24 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. Maffia was the Nike Top Performer for the Vikes, ending up with a game-high 40 points.
After surviving the first-round scare, Victoria advances to face STFX in a semifinal set for 8 p.m. (all times Atlantic). UPEI, for its part, will look to rebound against Queen’s in a consolation semifinal at 2 p.m. Saturday.
Nike Top Performers
- Victoria: Diego Maffia
- UPEI: Elijah Miller