(FREDERICTON, NB) Playing in her final regular season home game, Nicole Esson said goodbye in style.
The Fredericton-native scored 24 points to lead the UNB Varsity Reds in an 83-52 win over the St FX X-Women.
"In my head, I was just saying go out and enjoy it, have fun," said Esson. "There was a little bit of pressure, but I wanted to take it all in."
Esson scored 17 of her 24 points in the first half, including shooting 5-for-7 from three-point range. She was named the Subway Player of the Game.
Hannah Currie(Collingwood, ON) grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds for UNB.
Jamie McCarron(New Glasgow, NS) led the X-Women, scoring 14 points. Holly Scott(Antigonish, NS) added 11.
The win evens UNB's record at 10-10, good for sixth place in the Atlantic University Sport standings.
With the loss, the X-Women finish 1-19 and out of the Subway AUS playoffs.
"It's a league for older players," said X-Women head coach Augy Jones. "When you have third, fourth and fifth year players, you can't bring second and first year players into a game and be successful."
Esson started early, sinking three of her three-point shots in the first quarter, as UNB built a 20-9 lead.
In the second, the Varsity Reds spread the scoring around as they extended their lead to 43-28 at the half.
The X-Women went on a 5-0 run to start the second half, but a Dodig three-point basket awoke the Varsity Reds, who then scored the next ten points.
The home team held on for the 83-52 win.
The only real mark on the Varsity Reds score-sheet was the fact they gave up 16 points off turnovers.
"I want to say it's bitter-sweet, but it's mostly just bitter right now," said Esson, about her final home game. "It's sad. I'm sad to leave this stage of my life. I'm excited to start a new phase, but it's been so fun and such a great journey."
In a classy move, the X-Women remained on court after the game, watching the Varsity Reds' seniors celebration.
"It was good that they witnessed that, so that they see that it's a process," said Jones. "Our players are very positive right now, even though we've had two 1-and-19 seasons, because they realize that they are growing and that they can be what was celebrated at UNB tonight. We can get there."
The No. 6 seeded Varsity Reds will face the No. 3 UPEI Panthers in the quarter-final round at the Subway AUS Championships, in Halifax. That game takes place at 3:00pm, on Friday.
"We can play better than we played this weekend, but we're not your typical 6th seed," said Varsity Reds head coach Jeff Speedy. "We're excited that we're getting to play, and we're healthy-ish, so it'll be fun."
RECAP AND PHOTOS BY: Andy Campbell/UNB Athletics