Jerica Coley didn’t miss from the field, and Claire Till couldn’t hit from the line.
That’s the broad strokes of how FIU (2-2) came from eight down in the final 107 seconds to upset Iowa 66-65 Friday night in the first game of the FIU Thanksgiving Classic at U.S. Century Bank Arena. After Till missed two free throws with 8.4 seconds left, Coley glided down the court to a leaner off the glass that dropped as time expired.
But a more detailed look shows a pile of effort plays by the Panthers that set up the last of Coley’s game-high 31 points.
“I thought we played much more disciplined, definitely with a sense of urgency that we haven’t played with together, but I thought was coming,” FIU coach Cindy Russo said. “We’re now running our matchup zone. It’s good, it’s tough to beat.”
After trailing 43-35 at the half, FIU took a 54-52 lead before Iowa (4-2) went on a 10-0 run climaxed by a Melissa Dixon three-pointer. FIU called a timeout with 2:26 remaining.
What happened on FIU’s next possession directed the game toward the final result. Rebounds by senior Finda Mansare, who had a game-high eight rebounds, then Coley augmented the possession. Iowa’s Morgan Johnson slapped a Coley driving layup try out of bounds, but after the inbounds, Coley nailed a three-pointer as the shot clock expired: 62-57 with 1:47 left.
A Dixon three-point miss bounced over the backboard, giving FIU the ball back. Mansare sank two free throws with 56.3 left, and FIU tried to press the Hawkeyes. Iowa torched that for a Johnson layup to put FIU down by five again, 64-59. A Carmen Miloglav baseline jumper off Coley’s penetration and pass cut the Iowa lead back down to 64-61 with 33.9 remaining.
Till, who came into the game 5 of 8 from the line for the season, was 4 of 4 Friday when FIU’s Diamond Ashmore fouled her with 26.4 seconds on the clock. Till hit the first free throw before water began to find its level — she missed the second. Coley drained another three, and FIU fouled Till again.
Sure enough, Till missed both free throws and FIU’s Kamika Idom chased down her lone rebound of the night just before the ball went out of bounds. With no timeouts, Idom got the ball to Coley, who raced up the left sideline for the winner.
” Russo said. “We had no timeouts, I need you to go hard. Because what is that coach telling them on the other end?” In unison with Mansare and Coley, Russo said, “ ‘Don’t foul.’ So you’ve got to take it in the lane.