By Dalton Tevlin/Contributing Writer
In one of the more thrilling contests of the season, the FIU Women’s Panthers came out victorious over C-USA leaders Rice, 68-58, snapping their 8 game win streak.
The Panthers were led by an offensive triple threat of junior guard Kristian Hudson, red-shirt junior forward Kiandre’a Pound, and the hot shooting from sophmore guard Alexis Gordon. In what was more of a grit and grind type of game, Gordon came out firing with 5 threes in the first half, which kept them competitive heading into the break.
The Panthers did a great job defensively at applying pressure on the Owl’s inbound and not allowing them to set up their half court offense. The perimeter defense of sophmore guard Kayla Rodgers and junior guard Kristian Hudson stood out as the pair recorded 3 steals between them.
Coach Tiara Malcom told us post game that the players “have been asking to press more” and the players request definitely paid off, snagging 5 total steals. All together the Panther’s ability force Rice into commiting 11 turnovers was a huge factor in them winning tonight.
Despite a +11 offensive rebound advantage for Rice, FIU’s constant defensive pressure made it difficult for the Owls to convert many of their chances. Rice was held to a mere 27% from the floor and offensively looked out of sorts at times.
With 5 minutes left in the game the Panthers were up 2 going into a timeout. The team came out firing on all cylinders and played their best basketball down the stretch.
When asked what was discussed during the timeout, Coach Malcom said she told her team “Just stay calm, were fine, we have the lead so let’s just protect the ball.”. The players responded very well and came out the timeout oozing with confidence. “Sometimes they just need that confidence break to say “hey, we’re good” and they can get back on the floor and compete” said Coach Malcom.
Gordon continues to flex her offensive abilities and showcase her daggers from beyond the arc. Gordon, who recently dropped 40 against Marshall and set the school record for 3 pointers made with 9, did the majority of her work in the first half and ended the game with 22 points, shooting 6-12 from three.
The second half charge was led by Hudson and Pound. Hudson ended the game with 15 points, 6 rebounds 5 assists and 2 steals in what was an all around fantastic performance from the junior.
When asked on how important it is to share success with her teammates, Hudson said “ I think that’s one of the benefits and the strengths of basketball. Nobody did anything alone, nobody rebounded alone, we didn’t put the ball in the basket alone”.
She continued to say “Being able to do it with them(the team) and for everyone to see it paying off is really fun”.
In the front court, Pound shined when it mattered most and finished the game with a double-double, 14 points and 11 boards. In what was arguably the turning point in the game, Pound converted a crucial and-one to put the Panthers up by 5 with 4:26 left in the game and shift the momentum their way. The Panthers used this momentum and went on a huge run to close the game out.
Freshman forward Callie Cavanaugh asserted her defensive presence in the paint with 2 blocks and came away with 6 boards on the night.
Next Thursday, the Panther’s will hope to upset another C-USA opponent in second ranked Louisiana Tech, who are coming off of a win against Marshall. Tipoff is set for 11 am from the Ocean Bank Convocation Center.