Will Duval | Sports Director
The FIU women’s basketball team is hosting three teams in the MTE Christmas Classic tournament, beginning on Monday, Dec. 18, 2023 in Miami, Florida.
Entering the tournament, the Panthers hold a 6-4 record and are coming off a 65-62 victory over the FAU Owls on Thursday, Dec. 14. In that game, they took control from the opening tip and never faulted in their efforts.
To begin the game, FIU outscored the Owls 20-11 in the first quarter and were able to establish a nine point lead.
Due to their play in the first quarter, they were able to withstand getting outscored in the remaining quarters. Over the final three quarters of the game, they were outscored 51-45.
Despite getting outscored for the majority of the game, the Panthers never gave up the lead and escaped with a 65-62 victory.
Their shooting efficiency ultimately decided their outcome, as they shot 41.3% from the field and 40% from 3-point distance. Comparatively, FAU 36.7% from the field and 29.4% on their 3-pointers.
Unable to help themselves at the free throw line, the Owls went 13-31 on their free throws, amounting to 41.9% in the game. Their inability to make free throws also contributed to the loss, as they were fouled 21 times in the game.
Graduate student guard Kaliah Henderson led the team in scoring and finished with 16 points. Beyond her scoring, she contributed in other aspects, as she tallied nine rebounds and three assists.
Alongside Henderson, graduate student forward Courtney Prenger also made an impact and finished with 15 points. Her efficiency stabilized the offense, as she converted on seven of her 14 shot attempts.
Able to squeeze by with a narrow win, FIU is set to host the MTE Christmas Classic tournament in their next series of games.
MTE Christmas Classic:
For the first of their three games, the Panthers are taking on the Texas State Bobcats on Monday, Dec. 18.
Coming into the tournament, they hold a 6-3 record and took a 72-46 victory over the Denver Boones in their previous matchup.
In that game, they received an all-around team contribution offensively. Of the 12 players that checked into the game, 10 players scored at least one time.
Graduate student guard Ja’Niah Henderson led all scorers with 14 points and made three of her six 3-point attempts. On the season, she is the Bobcats’ leading scorer and averages 12.1 points per game and shoots 42.5% from 3-point distance.
Junior forward Jaylin Foster also delivered a balanced performance, as she finished with 13 points, seven rebounds, and six assists.
As a team, TSU often wins games through scoring a high volume of points and shooting the ball efficiently. This season, they score an average of 68 PPG and allow 55.1 PPG to opposing teams.
Offensively, they shoot 41% from the field and 35.7% from 3-point range, which is often a higher percentage than their opponents.
While their offense has been efficient, their defensive effort has allowed them to shut down other teams. Opposing teams shoot an average of 37.5% from the field and 26.3% from long distance when matched up with the Bobcats.
Proving themselves to be a selfless two-way team, they are one of the three teams competing in the tournament.
The Alabama A&M Bulldogs and the Chicago State Cougars are the two other teams in the MTE Christmas Classic. FIU is matched up with the Bulldogs for their second game of the tournament and the Cougars for their third.
Alabama A&M enters the tournament with a 4-4 record and are coming off a 57-52 loss to the Kansas City Roos on Thursday, Dec. 14.
Junior guard Amiyah Simmons led the team in scoring and finished with 13 points. Senior guard Darian Burgin and sophomore guard Victoria Dixon also made a contribution, as they each finished with 12 points on the night.
This season, they’ve struggled to keep up with the scoring of other teams. On average, they score 57.9 PPG and allow 62.1 PPG, giving them a -4.2 scoring margin.
Chicago State comes into the tournament on a 17-game losing streak and holds an 0-17 record. They lose by an average of 32.3 points each game and severely struggle to compete with other teams.
In the tournament, the Panthers have the opportunity to extend their winning streak to six-games. If they wish to do that, they have to remain focused on taking high-quality shots and play sound defense.
Preparing to host the MTE Christmas Classic, the FIU women’s basketball is taking on the Texas State Bobcats in their first game, beginning on Monday, Dec. 18, 2023.
Tip off is set for 12 p.m. at the Ocean Bank Convocation Center in Miami, Florida and the game will be broadcasted on ESPN+.
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