Jan. 15, 2009
BOCA RATON, FL - Florida International won a close game against local rival Florida Atlantic 58-53 Thursday night in Boca Raton. A season-high 1,450 fans at the FAU Arena were entertained until the final seconds, watching the lead change hands 10 times before the visiting Golden Panthers of FIU escaped with the win.
The Golden Panthers (7-12; 2-4 Sun Belt) caught fire from long range early in the second half, making three-straight from beyond the arc during a 15-4 run, which was capped off by one of Michael Dominguez's four treys - putting the visitors up 41-37 with 12:58 remaining.
Graham scored on a runner in the lane helping the Owls pull to within a point with 1:21 on the clock, but a pair of FIU free-throws and a late block sealed the win for the Golden Panthers - FIU's first road win in nine tries this season.
"Regardless of where FAU is record wise, if you don't come to play, they are going to beat you," said FIU head coach Sergio Rouco after the game. "I guarantee you they are going to win games. They have been unfortunate, hit with injuries but they have been in every game and they don't quit."
Rouco received a game-high 17 points from Nikola Gacesa and a number of timely triples by Dominguez - his fourth allowing FIU the lead for good with 5:34 left.
Richardson scored 10 of his 16 in the first half, including a baseline 3-pointer in the closing moments of the half that assured Florida Atlantic a lead at the break, 30-26.
The Florida Atlantic lead was one with 5:34 left after two Alex Tucker free throws when Dominguez made it 52-50 FIU, connecting on a deep 3 from the wing.
"Usually in games like this it's one basket that makes the difference," said FAU head coach Mike Jarvis. "It was a tough, tough, tough game."
FAU will try and bounce back on Saturday when they play North Texas at the Super Pit in Denton. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET.