Panthers get first win of season during Thanksgiving Tournament

Peter Holland, Jr. // Asst. Sports Director

After a tough overtime loss to Weber State University on Nov. 25, the Lady Panthers rebounded on Nov. 27 to get their first win of the season against Robert Morris University during the Thanksgiving Tournament.

The day after Thanksgiving, the Panthers hosted a mini tournament called the Thanksgiving Classic which also included Stetson University, Robert Morris and Weber State. FIU opened the tournament against Weber State.

The Panthers were dominating in the first half of the game and was at one point up by 14 points, making 50 percent of their shots prior to halftime. The lead, however, ended in second half when Weber State outscored FIU 33-19. But the Panthers managed to force an overtime before falling short to the wildcats 64-61.

“I thought we had a lot of energy coming out and played in attack mode,” said Head Coach Tiara Malcom. “This loss was disappointing. We got complacent and allowed their pressure to bother us in the second half.”

Battling for third place, the Panthers was back on the court to face Robert Morris on Sunday, Nov. 27. FIU had the upper hand in the first quarter, putting up five unanswered points. Halfway through the first quarter, the Colonials put up a 6-0 run and took a 14-11 lead before FIU scored the final four points.

“The biggest thing we’ve been talking about since the beginning of the year, was our energy and our ability to lock in the defensive end,” said Coach Malcom. “We kind of got ourselves going on defense which propelled us on the offensive end. They took their time, they were patient, they executed.

Sophomore forward Kiandre’a Pound recorded her first double-double of the season. She finished the game with 13 points and 14 rebounds.

“We just came out ready to win tonight and just wanted to play hard,” said Pound.  “I just came out and just wanted to play hard for my team. So, I just made that my goal. Coach said to set up a personal goal and be good at something today and mine was to rebound.”

Coach Malcom praised her team not only for their defensive efforts, but for also sharing the ball on the offensive side as well. Three players were scored double digits in their win against the Colonials.

“When you’re scoring and able to be successful on the offensive end, it’s easy to play defense,” said Malcom. “I think that they dialed in even in the second half when they started making a comeback in the fourth quarter to close that gap. They stayed strong even when we didn’t convert on the offensive end. Their mindset is different today than it was previous games. Their mindset was to now get a stop so we can go back down on the other end and try to get something.”

Freshman Kayla Rogers, along with Pound and starting guard Kristian Hudson, finished in double figures, recording 12 points and Hudson with 10 points.

“I like to score quick and get back on defense and get steals. I like running,” said Rogers. “With us sharing the ball and making the defense move, that actually opened up drives for me and I give my team credit for that.”

After traveling to Tampa to face University of South Florida on Nov. 30, the Lady Panthers will be back on Lime Court on Saturday, Dec.3 to face Jacksonville University at 2 p.m.