Senior Cameron Bell scored a career-high 17 points as the FIU men's basketball team (15-12, 10-8 SBC) defeated the UALR Trojans (15-13, 9-8 SBC), 65-52, on Thursday evening at U.S. Century Bank Arena. Prior to the start of the game, FIU honored its four seniors (Bell, Tola Akomolafe, Gaby Belardo and Manny Nunez), who each played their final regular season home game).
Four Panthers scored in double-figures, including Bell. The West Bloomfield, Mich., native shot 5-of-8 from the floor and was a perfect 6-of-6 from the free-throw line, while grabbing a game- and season-high eight rebounds. Freshman Jerome Frink posted 13 points on 5-of-10 shooting, registering three steals and two blocked shots. Sophomore Deric Hill added 12 points, shooting 3-of-6 from the floor, and notched three assists, one block and two steals versus the Trojans. Junior Tymell Murphy rounded out the double-digit scorers, pouring in 11 points and grabbing five rebounds.
FIU shot 46.8 percent from the floor (22-of-47) and 29.4 percent from 3-point range (5-of-17), while holding UALR to 39.3 percent shooting from the field (22-of-56) and a staggering 9.1 percent (2-of-22) from beyond the arc.
The Panthers converted a season-best 88.9 percent from the free-throw line (16-of-18), hitting 15-of-16 from the charity stripe in the second half. UALR struggled from the line, converting 6-of-15 (40.0 percent).
The game began with UALR taking an early lead through the first six minutes. A dunk by Bell with 13:57 left in the first half gave the Panthers their first lead of the game, 8-7. It would be a lead FIU would hold onto until a jumper by James White with 1:53 remaining in the first half gave the Trojans a 25-24 lead. A trey by Hill with 1:24 on the clock gave FIU a 27-25 edge. Akomolafe added a dunk with 40 seconds left in the half as the Panthers entered halftime with a 29-25 advantage.
The second half was all FIU as the Panthers maintained their lead for the final 20 minutes to snap a three-game losing skid to the Trojans.
The win marked the team's 10th home victory of the season and improved the Panthers' season win total to 15. The 15 wins are the most by a Panther team since the 1999-2000 season, while the 10 conference victories are the most for FIU since joining the Sun Belt Conference in 1998-1999. The 15 victories also ensure a record of .500 or better for the Panthers for the first time in 13 years.
FIU will next travel to Monroe, La., to take on the ULM Warhawks on Thursday, Feb. 28. Game time is set for 8:30 p.m.ET.
Women's Comeback Falls Short in 51-47 Loss to UALR
FIU went on a game-closing 19-6 run over the final 10 minutes of the contest, but the comeback fell short as UALR came away with a 51-47 road victory Thursday evening at U.S. Century Bank Arena. With the loss, FIU falls to 17-10 (11-7 SBC) while the Trojans improve to 19-7 (11-6 SBC).
The Panthers took their largest lead of the game in the first half, leading by nine points at 18-9 with 9:14 remaining in the stanza. UALR would then rally to take the lead, taking a 23-20 advantage into the halftime break.
In the second half, the Trojans pushed their lead to 17 points, 43-26, with 11 minutes left to play. Then came the FIU comeback attempt, with the Panthers getting within three at 50-47 with 17 seconds remaining in the game, but UALR prevailed to take home the win.
Junior Jerica Coley led all scorers with 28 points, also contributing seven rebounds, two blocks, two steals, and two blocks in 39 minutes. The All-America candidate has scored in double-figures in 25-consecutive games and in 83 of 93 career contests, while the 20-point outing marks her 18th of the season, pushing her career-point total to 1,997.
Also scoring in double-figures for the Panthers was junior Marita Davdova with 11 points. Davdova added a team-high eight rebounds, while senior Carmen Miloglav dished out a game-high six assists on the night. Miloglav and Coley tied for the team lead in stills with two swipes apiece.
As a team, FIU shot 35.1 percent (20-of-57) from the field, while UALR shot 40.0 percent (20-of-50) on the night. The Trojans out-rebounded the Panthers, 37-34, for the contest.
FIU returns to action on Thursday, Feb. 28, when the Panthers travel to Monroe, La., to take on SBC opponent ULM. Tipoff is set for 6:15 p.m. ET.