David Drucker/Contributing Writer
Dennis Mavin discusses the final shot.
The men’s basketball team dropped to 11-12 after a 67-64 defeat to the University of Texas at El Paso Miners (16-7) on Saturday night. Although the Panthers managed to catch up and even take the lead once, they weren’t able to keep that advantage and missed a potential game-tying shot at the buzzer.
“It’s definitely frustrating because you want to win, but at the same time [this week] shows that we can play with anyone in this league,” said senior guard Dennis Mavin.
The Miners put the Panthers in an early hole; they climbed out to a 27-15 lead with 7:49 left in the first half. UTSA utilized screens to set up open shots on the Panthers defense. FIU also had a hard time responding to the Miners’ defense, which did not allow the Panthers to penetrate inside in the game’s early minutes. FIU headed into halftime down 34-25.
The Panthers’ defense improved in the second half. They closed out on shots and adjusted to the Miners’ ball movement. They also had more production from junior forward Daviyon Draper, who finished the game with 21 points before fouling out late in the second half.
“I think we got into a rhythm after a while defensively. We were understanding what they were trying to do and making it tough for them. They’re a long team and were getting some blocks and causing some problems for us. We tried to adjust to that by screening a little more and then going to Adrian,” said Head Coach Anthony Evans.
The Panthers had a scare when senior guard Dennis Mavin fell on his hand during the second half. Although he stayed down on the court in pain, he was able to return to the game a few minutes later and finish with a team-high 23 points. The guard insisted that the injury was nothing new.
“My hands have kind of been bothering me for two weeks now,” said Mavin.
Junior forward Adrian Diaz also appeared slower than normal on the court in the second half. Head Coach Anthony Evans dismissed that he was playing injured, chalking up any apparent injury and extra time he spent on the bench to the long week.
“I think it’s just the wear and tear of the season. He’s doing everything he can offensively and defensively to help us,” said Evans.
The Panthers finally had an opportunity to take the lead in the game’s final minutes, and it came in the form of a Mavin shot at 1:23. They weren’t able to keep this advantage though and Mavin missed the game-tying shot as time expired.
A two-game road trip awaits the Panthers with Southern Mississippi University being the first stop. Tip-off is scheduled for 9 p.m on Thursday, February 12.