Will Duval | Sports Director
The FIU women’s basketball team is traveling to Fort Myers, Florida to take on the FGCU Eagles on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2023.
Starting off their season with a 2-0 record, the Panthers are coming off a 65-64 over the Texas Rio Grande Vaqueros on Friday, Nov. 10.
Neither team allowed each other any breathing room throughout the match, as it was decided on a game-winning shot with seconds remaining on the clock.
Coming out of the gates ready to attack, the Vaqueros went on a 9-0 scoring run to start the game. Junior guard Tierra Trotter scored five of their nine points after connecting on her initial 3-point attempt.
Answering back, senior forward Ajae Yoakum went on a run of her own and brought FIU back within reach.
With three minutes remaining in the first quarter, Yoakum converted on a 3-pointer and scored the team’s first points of the game.
One minute later, she got fouled by junior guard Kade Hackerott on a drive and made both of her free throws.
Finishing off her solo 7-1 scoring run, she drove into the paint and scored on a layup, cutting the Panthers’ deficit to 10-7.
Despite Yoakum’s efforts, they were only able to score one more time in the first quarter and fell into a 15-9 disadvantage.
Carrying their offensive energy into the second, UTGRV scored six unanswered points with junior guard Arianna Sturdivant contributing four of them.
Falling into a 21-9 hole, FIU needed to respond to their opponent’s scoring in order to climb back into the game.
Snapping their offensive cold streak, senior shooting guard Sariana Rodriguez Camacho hit a 3-pointer and scored their first points of the quarter.
This ignited a 10-0 scoring run for the Panthers, which was led by graduate student shooting guard Olivia Trice. She was responsible for scoring the final five points in the run, as she connected on a three and a layup.
After the Vaqueros made two free throws and were finally able to answer back, their lead sat at 23-19.
Scoring once again, Trice nailed a 3-pointer and brought FIU within one point.
Immediately after, they were able to claim their first lead of the game, as Yoakum was fouled and made both of her free throws.
Pushing the score to 24-23, the game remained closely contested until halftime, where the game was tied at 28-28.
Just as in the first half, both teams exchanged points in runs in the second half. By the end of the third quarter, neither team was able to build a substantial lead.
Sophomore forward Mya Kone closed out the quarter by going two for two at the free-throw line and giving the Panthers a 49-48 lead.
With 4:45 remaining in the game, UTGRV was able to jump out to a 58-53 lead after junior guard Iyana Dorsey made her jump shot.
Turning around the momentum, Trice stole the ball and passed it to Yoakum who scored on a fastbreak layup. Ignited by the timely two-way play, FIU was ready to cut down their opponent’s lead.
Driving into the paint, Kone was fouled and sent to the free-throw line, where she went 2-2. Continuing her physical play, she drove and scored on a layup on the following possession.
Temporarily tied at 59-59, Dorsey hit a jump shot and gave the Vaqueros a two-point lead. However, it was short lived as Trice ran back and scored on a layup.
Repetitively pounding the paint, Kone drove and was fouled once again. She made both of her free throws and gave the Panthers a 63-61 lead.
Trying to keep her team in the game, Dorsey drove into the paint and was fouled. After missing her first free throw, she made the second and brought UTGRV within one point.
Able to force an FIU turnover on the next play, they got the stop they needed with 19 seconds remaining in the game. With six seconds left, Sturdivant scored on a layup and gave them a 64-63 lead.
Trailing late, the Panthers needed to score quickly in order to win the game. Senior forward Maria Torres received a quick pass inside and scored on a layup.
Delivering the clutch score with two seconds remaining, Torres gave them a 65-64 lead and pushed them to victory.
Claiming their second victory of the new season, FIU earned their first win of the year against an NCAA opponent.
Yoakum led the team in scoring, finishing with 13 points, six rebounds and a block. Kone and Trice contributed ten points each, with Trice hitting two of the team’s four 3-pointers.
For the game, the Panthers shot 29.9% from the field and 22.2% from 3-point territory. While shooting below 30% in both categories, they went 21-22 from the free-throw line and won the turnover battle.
Looking to continue their undefeated start, they’re taking on the FGCU Eagles in their next game.
FGCU got off to a 1-1 start after taking a 67-51 loss to the No. 21 USC Trojans on Friday, Nov. 10.
They struggled to find consistency on either end of the floor in that game and doubled the Trojans’ turnovers on the night. Over the entire game, they committed 20 turnovers whereas their opponent committed ten.
Unable to affect their offense, the Eagles allowed their opponent to have a 45.1% shooting percentage while only shooting 32.1% from the field themselves.
Despite the loss, junior shooter Maddie Antenucci was their only player to shoot over 50% from the field with more than five shot attempts. She led the team in scoring and finished with 19 points on 6-11 shooting and went 3-5 from three,
If FIU wants to leave this matchup victorious, they cannot allow the FGCU’s perimeter shooters to find a consistent rhythm.
Antenucci has demonstrated her ability to be an efficient 3-point shooter, as she went 4-10 from deep in their game against the Brown Bears.
Fifth year shooter Uju Ezeudu also has shown the ability to be a volume shooter, as she finished with 24 points and went 4-8 from three against Brown.
When Ezeudu was limited to six points on 2-7 shooting against USC, they lost the game. If FGCU can’t make perimeter shots, they struggle to win games.
Looking to open up a winning streak, the FIU women’s basketball team is taking on the FGCU Eagles in Fort Myers, Florida on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2023.
Tip off is set for 7 p.m. at Alico Arena and the game will be broadcasted on ESPN+.
Follow Will Duval on X: @WillDuval40