FIU’s women got offense from Finda Mansare in the first half, a few others in the second half and defense from everybody all game to slam Louisiana-Lafayette with its customary double-digit Sun Belt loss, 63-47 on Saturday night at U.S. Century Bank Arena.
Only a two-point loss to Georgia Tech last week blemishes the December and January record of FIU (9-5, 2-2 Sun Belt). Mansare, a senior forward, got 13 of her 15 points on 6-of-8 first-half shooting as FIU took a 31-23 lead into halftime.
“There are days like that and days when it’s not,” Mansare shrugged. “Thank God today was one of those [good] days.”
Said FIU coach Cindy Russo: “Finda was working hard to get the ball tonight. That’s what I like to see. If we can get her to go to the basket a little more, she’ll be on the line and get a few more points. She likes her little fadeaway.”
Coley the passer
As Mansare’s shooting hands turned into ice packs in the second half, junior guard Jerica Coley assumed her usual control of the offense. Despite her game-high 16 points to go with her game-high 15 rebounds, Coley excelled more as distributor (a game-high eight assists) than shooter (7 of 19).
The main beneficiaries of Coley’s feeds were sophomore guard Kamika Idom (6 of 7, 14 points) and senior guard Carmen Miloglav (3 of 6, seven points, all in the second half).
“They were really overplaying Jerica,” Russo said. “And, as you see, she still had a double-double.”
But the Panthers defense won this liberally officiated game — it took 11 minutes before referees whistled the game’s second foul and only 21 fouls were called total, seven on FIU. In addition to holding the Ragin’ Cajuns to 38.5 percent shooting in the first half and 27.6 percent in the second half, the Panthers forced three shot-clock violations and several desperate heaves as the shot clock ran down.
Coley rebounded one such futile effort and fed Idom for an underhanded flip off the glass and a 52-37 lead with 6:23 left to end the competitive phase of the game.
Keke Veal put in 14 points to lead the scoring for Louisiana-Lafayette (7-8, 1-5), which has suffered each of its five conference losses by double-digits.
“We stopped their strengths better than I’ve seen any team,” Russo said. “You’ve got to take this team seriously. They beat [Arkansas-]Little Rock and they beat Tulane at Tulane. They’re not a bad team if you let them do what they want to do. They’re really scrappy. You see they were punching out everything.”