Panthers clobber Morgan State in last non-conference game

ColeyJerica Coley scored 28 points and snatched 16 rebounds en route to FIU's victory over Morgan State. (Photo Courtesy of Jasen Delgado)

By Brandon Wise/ Assistant Sports Director

Coley

Jerica Coley scored 28 points and snatched 16 rebounds en route to FIU's victory over Morgan State. (Photo Courtesy of Jasen Delgado)

FIU had one last chance to prepare for conference play when Morgan State came to town on Jan. 3. Even though they bashed the Bears 77-60, Head Coach Cindy Russo was not pleased with her team’s performance.

“They lacked discipline and focus to do what they were suppose to do,” Russo said. “That is not a good sign because we are halfway through our season and I can see when we are going to come out flat.”

As flat as Russo claims they were, Jerica Coley had yet another stellar performance. The sophomore dropped 28 points and grabbed a career high 16 rebounds. It was her third double-double of the season and only two assists shy of a triple-double.

Coley still found things that she wants to improve on.

“I had too many turnovers,” said Coley, who turned the ball over seven times. “In the first half, we weren’t running the plays like we wanted to. We could have been winning by a lot more.”

Early in the game, the Panthers were hot shooting the ball, draining nearly half of all their field goals. Many times on offense, Russo drew up plays to get Coley open looks from three-point range. She cashed in on almost all attempts.

“We put her on the weak side and our post players take up a lot of attention,” Russo said. “When they get the ball, the defense usually doubles down on them [Finda Mansare]. So when that happens, it leaves her [Coley] open.”

In the second half of the game, the Bears switched to a full court press on defense, which FIU struggled to break through. Morgan State quickly cut the FIU lead from ten to five within the opening minute.

However, the Panthers then found holes in the press and went on an 8-0 of their own and never looked back.

Mansare and Fanni Hutlassa also reached double digits for the Panthers, with 19 and 17 points each. Mansare also kicked in nine rebounds and four steals, falling one rebound short of a double-double.

With the win, the Panthers finish off non-conference play with a 10-3 record and will finish off the rest of the season with Sun Belt games. FIU will host ULM on Jan. 7 at U.S. Century Bank Arena. Russo likes her team’s chances in the conference but knows what her team needs to understand to perform well.

“I feel good, I feel they will step back up,” Russo said. “They can’t come and go, we as coaches try to tell them that they just can’t turn it on and off. If your going to be a championship team, you have to play like it every night. I think we have a real good chance to do some nice things in conference.”

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