Panthers take thriller versus Owls

David Drucker/Staff Writer

The men’s basketball team (13-13) pulled out a last-minute 60-56 victory over the Rice University Owls on Thursday night. Sophomore guard Ray Rodriguez drained a three with 22.6 left in the contest to win the game and guide the Panthers back to .500.

Rodriguez was featured as a starter in the game alongside sophomore guard Dominique Williams, senior guard Dennis Mavin, junior forward Adrian Diaz, and senior forward Kris Gulley. Mavin led the Panthers in scoring with 19 points, followed by a tie between Rodriguez and Diaz with 12 points apiece. Florida International University’s five starters played 177 of the team’s 200 minutes of play on a night where Head Coach Anthony Evans had only eight players see the court. The Panthers’ bench did not record a point.

A Gulley make from beyond the arc and a Mavin dish to Diaz inside gave the Panthers an early 5-0 lead. The Panthers had their way in the paint in the first half; they scored 16 points down low in the first 20 minutes. FIU also was able to capitalize on the Owls’ mistakes with nine points off of turnovers. Add in solid first-half shooting performances from Diaz, Williams, and Rodriguez and FIU was up 33-27 at halftime.

FIU pulled out to their largest lead of the night in the second half when made Diaz and Williams free throws put their team up 48-38 with 10:06 left to play. They ran into some late-game trouble, however, when Rice’s Bishop Mency and Seth Gearhart hit three-pointers as the Owls surged to their first lead of the night at 56-52 with 2:02 remaining. The Panthers regained the advantage when Rodriguez knocked down a game-sealing three off of a Diaz offensive rebound at 22.6 to put his team up 58-56. The Owls could not covert the field goal on the next possession and

FIU took the thriller by a final score of 60-56.

The Panthers will return to action when they host the University of North Texas Mean Green on Saturday night. Tip-off is slated for 6 p.m.

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