Brian Olmo | Sports Director
Despite their best efforts, the FIU women’s basketball team couldn’t find their rhythm against the Charlotte 49ers, dropping out in the first round of the Conference USA Tournament in a 72-59 loss on Wednesday, March 8 in Frisco, Texas.
Final scores can often be misleading, and this one is no different. FIU actually did a solid job of staying in it, scoring more points than Charlotte in the third and fourth quarters.
What doomed the Panthers was their atrocious second quarter, where they got outscored 19-5. The 49ers went on an unanswered 10-point run while FIU couldn’t buy a bucket to save its lives, shooting 2-15 on field goals and missing every three it took.
Recovering from a quarter that one-sided is a tall task for any team, and while the Panthers did make a valiant attempt, it was too little, too late. Charlotte seized the opportunity, kept the pressure on and ran away with the win, 72-59.
The 49ers saw four players end the game with double-digit points. Redshirt sophomore guard Dazia Lawrence was the team’s leading scorer, dropping 27 points and chipping in five rebounds and four assists.
Lawrence notably finished the game with an eye-popping eight steals, showcasing how much of a threat she is on both sides of the ball.
Turnovers consistently killed any momentum the Panthers could have had, as the 49ers scored 21 points off FIU’s 19 turnovers. Senior guard Olivia Trice had a particularly off night, committing five turnovers and shooting 1-6 from the field and 0-3 from deep.
3-point shooting struggles weren’t exclusive to one player, however. The team as a whole concluded the night with only one three made in 10 attempts for a paltry 10.0% from deep.
Presence in the paint was also another factor in the long list of things that didn’t go in FIU’s favor, with the Panthers being outscored on the inside 42-28. Rebounding numbers were extremely close, with senior center Hope Butera leading the Panthers with eight boards.
Senior guard Kaliah Henderson finished with a career-high 31 points on 8-22 shooting from the field and went 15-16 at the free-throw line. Henderson finished as the only Panther with double-digit points.
Charlotte now advances to the quarterfinals to face the No. 1 seed Middle Tennessee Lady Raiders.
FIU finishes its season on a sour note, ending with an eight-game losing streak and a first-round exit in the tournament.
Most Valuable Players:
Dazia Lawrence (49ers) – 27 points, 5 rebounds, 8 steals
Mya McGraw (49ers) – 13 points, 5 rebounds, 6-8 FG
Kaliah Henderson (FIU) – 31 points, 4 rebounds, 15-16 FT
Follow Brian Olmo on Twitter at @Brian_Olmo11