Feb. 4, 2012
Boca Raton, FL - Scoring seven of the game's final 12 points, the Florida Atlantic University women's basketball team swept the season series from South Florida rival FIU, 51-49, in a Sun Belt Conference East Division encounter on Saturday at the FAU Arena in Boca Raton. The Owls remain in second place in the division with a 7-3 record while improving to 12-9 overall.
FAU defeated FIU 50-49 two weeks earlier on January 21 in Miami.
Like that earlier encounter, this one came down to the final minutes before determining the winning team. Senior guard DaLita Scott made a six-foot jumper to give the hosts the final lead, 50-49, with 23 seconds. Then the defense successfully thwarted two late FIU field goal attempts, and sophomore guard Latavia Dempsey made a free throw with 2.1 seconds left to clinch the victory.
"I am really proud of the way the team responded late in the game. We had some kids step up once again in pressure-packed situations," said Chancellor Dugan, FAU's head women's basketball coach. "We didn't play our best game today, but we found a way to get an important win. The players showed a lot of heart and passion today."
FAU trailed 44-39 with 5:41 left in the game, but closed the game on a 12-5 run. Senior guard Teri Stamps tied the game at 44-44 with 3:26 remaining on a three-point field goal. Then, the game featured five lead changes in the final 2:37. The Owls went on top 46-44 on a layup by senior forward April Goins before the Panthers regained the lead when star guard Jerica Coley connected on three consecutive free throws with 2:10 left.
One minute later, Goins drained two free throws to give FAU a 48-47 lead. Coley put FIU ahead 49-48 with a jumper with 44 seconds remaining. However, the Owls took the game's final lead change after Scott's field goal along the right baseline with 23 seconds.
After a FIU timeout, jump shots by Coley and forward Finda Mansare were missed in the closing seconds and FAU's Dempsey came down with the defensive rebound to help seal the home court victory. Dempsey connected on one of two free throws to give Florida Atlantic the two-point margin of victory.
Scott paced a balanced FAU offensive attack with a season league-high 13 points, making 5-of-7 shots from the floor, including the game-wining jumper with 23 seconds left.
Senior forward Vontrice Dennis added nine points and a season-best 12 rebounds. Dempsey and Stamps each scored seven points each.
However, Stamps made her most impressive contributions to the defensive end of the court, helping to hold Coley to a season-low 12 points -- 13 points fewer than her 25-point season average (No. 1 in the Sun Belt Conference and No. 2 in the nation). Coley, who scored 21 points against the Owls in the first encounter, didn't score in the rematch until the 12:10 mark of the second half.
"We tried to give her different looks throughout the game," said Stamps. "Although I guarded her a lot in the game, Kimberly Smith also deserves credit for the way she played defensively as well. (Coley) is a good shooter and scorer. We got off to a good start on her and kept up the pressure throughout a majority of the game."
FAU held a commanding 38-28 rebounding edge in the contest. The Owls also held the visiting Panthers to 32 percent shooting (18-of-56).
FIU (15-8, 5-5 Sun Belt) was led by Fanni Hutlassa's 17 points and six rebounds.
The Owls return to the court on Wednesday, February 8, at 7 p.m. when it battles West Division leader University of Denver at the FAU Arena. Live audio and statistics of the game can be found at www.fausports.com. For tickets contact the FAU Ticket Office at 1-866-FAU-OWLS.
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