Junior Jerica Coley scored 37 points to become FIU's single-season scoring record holder on Thursday night, as FIU fell to Florida, 75-68, in the first round of the Postseason Women's National Invitation Tournament (WNIT) at U.S. Century Bank Arena.
Coley, who ends the season with an FIU-record 840 points, also moved into second place on the Panther all-time scoring chart, as she has scored 2,135 career points. Albena Branzova (1991-95) holds the FIU career scoring record with 2,515 points.
FIU (19-13) took its largest lead of the contest in the first half, going ahead by 11 points at 30-19 with 6:14 remaining in the stanza. UF (19-14) would then close out the period on a 17-8 run, as the Panthers went into the halftime break with a narrow 38-36 advantage. For the half, FIU shot 51.9 percent (16-of-31) from the floor while holding the Gators to 41.9 shooting (13-of-31).
In the second half, UF saw its first lead of the game at the 15:42 mark as the Gators pulled ahead, 46-44. The Panthers fought to a 66-66 tie with 2:43 left to play, but UF out-scored FIU, 9-2, over the final minutes to come away with the 75-68 victory.
For the contest, FIU shot 36.1 percent (22-of-61) against 46.6 percent (27-of-58) shooting for Florida. The Gators out-rebounded the Panthers, 41-36, as junior Marita Davydova led FIU on the boards (12). Senior Diamond Ashmore tallied a team-best two blocks on the night.
Coley's 37-point performance marked her 30th-straight double-figure scoring game; her 23rd 20-point contest; and her 12th 30-point outing of the campaign. The All-America candidate converted 9-of-24 attempts from the field and 18-of-18 attempts from the free throw line, while contributing seven rebounds and team-high totals of five steals and four assists.
The perfect 18-of-18 mark from the charity stripe ties an FIU single-game record for free throw percentage, a record which has been set by Coley four times over her career - 12-of-12 vs. South Alabama (2/25/12); 11-of-11 vs. UCF (12/13/12); 16-of-16 vs. Georgia Tech (12/30/12). The 18 made free throws put Coley's season total at 208, tying her own single-season free throws made record from a season ago, and the 18 points from the free throw line are the most scored against Florida in the program's history.
Coley Selected as WBCA All-America All-Region Nominee
For the second-consecutive season, junior Jerica Coley has been selected as an all-region nominee for the 2013 WBCA Division I Coaches' All-America Team, announced on Tuesday by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA).
The selection committee will select the 10-member WBCA Division I Coaches' All-America Team from 52 regional candidates. Coley is one of six players representing Region 4 as she joins Crystal Bradford (Central Michigan), Courtney Osborn (Miami [Ohio]), Ebony Rowe (Middle Tennessee), Keena Mays (SMU) and Naama Shafir (Toledo) on the region's nominee list.
The 2013 WBCA Division I Coaches' All-America Team will be announced at 2:10 p.m. ET on Saturday, April 6, during NCAA® Women's Final Four® Super Saturday festivities in New Orleans Arena.
Coley has led the nation in scoring since Jan. 25, and continues to do so, with an average of 25.9 points per game. The point guard led FIU (19-12) to its third-straight Sun Belt Conference Championship semifinal appearance this season, en route to the program's second-straight Postseason WNIT berth.
A native of St. Petersburg, Fla., Coley has scored in double-figures in 29-straight games, and has notched 22, 20-plus point games this season, including 11, 30-plus point outings. The two-time SBC Player of the Year ranks second all-time in program history with a career scoring average of 21.6 points per game, and is just the second player in program history to achieve 2,000 career points, 600 rebounds and 300 assists.
For her career, Coley has scored 2,098 career points, as she is just one point shy of moving into a tie for second place on the FIU all-time scoring charts. The 2013 Capital One Academic All-District honoree has been responsible for 42.4 percent of the Panthers' scoring in 2012-13, and has scored 34.8 percent of FIU's total points for her career.