Peter Benoite’s Memorial University men’s Sea-Hawks basketball team have hit a rough patch at the wrong time. The once mighty Sea-Hawks fell decisively in both games in Charlottetown to a strong UPEI Panthers side, 87-97 and 85-115 respectively, falling further out of Atlantic University Sport (AUS) playoff contention.

In the opening game, there was a bit of a surprise in the starting lineup, as rookie Deng Ring was preferred to veteran Noel Moffatt. Ring, who went scoreless in 11 minutes of game time, eventually deferred to Moffatt, who helped out the cause with ten points and six boards. MUN’s all-star Vasilije Curcic padded his already impressive stats with nine boards to go along wit h his team-high 24 points. Curcic, who also leads the AUS in blocks, extended that edge with three on the night. However, it was the Panthers’ Tyler Scott who really stole the show. The AUS’ second leading scorer and top three point shooter proved his mettle again with a game high 27 points, in which he shot 5-9 from beyond the arc. Scott’s contributions did not end merely with points, however, as he out-hustled bigger and stronger Sea-Hawks to a game high 14 boards. Scott also enjoyed playing provider for his teammates, finishing with eight assists in a truly complete performance. The differential in points down low was one of the more telling battles, with MUN posting just 40 in the paint to UPEI’s 54.

Showcasing why they are one of the conference’s most feared teams, the Panthers adapted brilliantly to the strengths of the Sea-Hawks in the second game. Curcic, who was largely kept from owning the paint and doubled often, finished with a comparatively pedestrian 16 points and seven boards. Moffatt, again named a reserve, was his team’s lifeline in a contest that quickly got out of hand, as the offence ran through him. Moffatt went for a game-high 29 and ten in an outstanding effort, but it proved to be not enough. The play of both Sea-Hawks guards was marginalized, with Ring and Davion Parnsalu grabbing nine points apiece, though Parnsalu also made seven assists, most into the hot hands of Moffatt. On the opposition side, Scott was again comfortable, hitting the Sea-Hawks for 21 points, while simply owning the glass with his game-high 16 boards. Lorenzo Parker was lights out from the bench with a team-high 28 points, hitting 10-13 and 4-5 from deep in just 18 minutes of action. In the end, the game was never close, and Memorial, who never led, lost by 30 even as UPEI began resting starters early in the fourth.

The Sea-Hawks (6-12) are struggling to string together wins at the wrong time, an eerie reminder of last year’s difficult late-season stretch. Meanwhile the Panthers (12-6) are gathering momentum, as they sit tied for the conference lead with Dalhousie (12-5) with just one week to go.

The Sea-Hawks desperately need to unseat the teams ahead of them, all with .500 or worse records, in order to ensure a post-season berth. However, that will require a lot of results to go their way, with both St. Mary’s (8-8) and Cape Breton (7-10) standing in the way. The Sea-Hawks will simply have to focus on what they can do to change their fortunes, needing to win both of their final games to have any shot at the title.

The Sea-Hawks wrap up their season at home against the last place St. FX X-Men in a potentially crucial eight-point affair. Games are at 8:00 PM February 26 and 3:00 PM February 27.