Panthers defeat Florida Memorial 70-47 in season opener

Steven Melendez/Staff Writer


The FIU men’s basketball team opened their 2017-18 season off with a 70-47 victory over Florida Memorial Friday night at the Ocean Bank Convocation Center. This win marks the Panthers fourth straight season opening win and fifth in the last six seasons.

The start of the game was tough as FIU came out shooting 4-14 (28.6%) from the field and 0-7 from the 3pt line, but they didn’t allow it to hurt them for too long as they eventually led 35-31 at the half.

“I think they started off a little tight. We were pressing a little bit and weren’t moving the ball as freely,” said coach Anthony Evans of his team’s first half performance. “We were a little slow to spots, we were running around and guys weren’t matching up.”

New players, sophomore guard Trejon Jacobs and junior guard Josh Stamps, instantly showed why the coaching staff put so much faith in them heading into this new season. Jacobs finished with 18 points, 3 rebounds and 1 assist, while Stamps had 15 points, 4 rebounds and 1 assist.

“It felt very exciting, I just wanted to give my team that extra boost on offense since we were a little slow to start,” said sophomore guard Jacobs after leading the team in scoring in his first game as a Panther.

Things quickly changed in the second half as FIU went on a 12-0 run to open the floodgates, shooting 13 of 24 (54.2%) from field.

FIU eventually led by as many as 28 points, 67-39, when junior forward Eric Lockett connected on one of two free throws with 6:04 left in the game.

“Defensively it kicked in in the second half. All the jitters were out and they were able fly around to get good stops and some easy baskets,” said coach Evans.

Defense was definitely the name of the game as FIU were able to hold Florida Memorial to nearly seven scoreless minutes to start the second half. After shooting 10-22 (45.5%) from the field and 6-13 (46.2%) from the 3pt line in the first half, Florida Memorial shot 5-23 (21.7%) from the field and 0-8 from the 3pt line in the second half. FIU also feasted on points off turnovers as they outscored Florida Memorial 34-8 in that category.

“Just be active. We’ve been working on that every day to be active and get deflections,” said coach Evans. “We have goals that we try to reach every single game and we were able to do that tonight.”

Lockett had some big moments and his ability to impact multiple parts of the game were clearly shown. He finished with 10 points on 4-7 (57%) shooting, six rebounds and two assists, but his biggest impact was on the defensive end where he came up with a career high six steals. His leadership on the court will be greatly needed this season to avoid the troubles of last season.

“I just do what I can do for my team every night,” said Lockett. “I’ll do whatever needs to be done I try to go out there and do it, whether its scoring, rebounding, defending or passing the ball.”

The Panthers will play their second game of the season this Sunday against the Stetson Hatters, as the team looks to improve to 2-0. Tipoff from the Ocean Bank Center is set for 7:00 p.m.

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