Seniors start fresh against Jaguars

The Panthers won their first and last home games of this season.

Rico Albarracin / Asst. Sports Director

rico.albarracin@fiusm.com

The Panthers won their first and last home games of this season.

On the night that DeJuan Wright and Jeremy Allen played their final home game in a Panther uniform, both went out with a bang.
Wright had career highs in both points and rebounds, 34 points and 13 rebounds, and Allen chipped in with 21 points, to lead the Panthers to a 81-74 win over the South Alabama Jaguars on senior night.
“I was really happy for DeJuan [Wright] and Jeremy [Allen]. They’ve given us everything in practice and play,” said Head Coach Isiah Thomas. “We’re gonna miss them, but they definitely made their mark here at FIU.”
With the win, the Panthers will go into the Sun Belt Conference tournament as the 10th seed and will play the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers in the first round.
After the game, Allen revealed what the goal was for the team at the prior to the match-up.
“Everyone collectively tried to start out fresh. We tried to come out as a team and go into the tournament with a win.”
South Alabama began the game on a 8-2 run, including a Mychal Ammons alley-oop to Javier Carter. FIU climbed back to regain the lead from an Allen drive to the basket with 8:06 left in the half.
The play sparked a 23-12 run, including an emphatic dunk by Wright to end the first half with FIU leading 41-30. Wright was able to score 16 of his 34 in the first half.
“He’s just really, really good,” said Thomas. “He was able to put it on the floor and drive it. His offensive rebounding was great.”
South Alabama was able to bring the halftime deficit to five, trailing 53-48 with 14:01 left in the game. Allen then got the hot hand and hit three three-pointers to extend the Panthers lead back up to 64-50.
During the run, Thomas used a smaller lineup, with Deric Hill, Phil Taylor, Allen, Wright and Brandon Moore during the run and it seemed to work.
“I like when Phil [Taylor] plays the two, he doesn’t have to dribble as much and it makes us faster.” said Allen.
The Jaguars would not go away quietly, scoring in small spurts. An Austine Rubit dunk and free throw cut the lead down to three, 72-69. It would be the closest that the Jaguars would get, as FIU finished the game at the free-throw line and with the win.
Now the focus shifts towards the conference tournament, where the Panthers will be playing on March 3 at 8:30 p.m. in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Thomas was happy that the team can go into the tournament on a winning note.
“It’s better going in with a win than a loss,” said Thomas. “That’s the thing about momentum, you win one game, you feel great. You lose, you feel terrible.”
Thomas used the win as tool for the upcoming SBC tournament.
“Coach put on the board ‘1-0’. We’re starting the tournament today and we can build on it,” said Allen.

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