After FIU and North Texas treated the hundreds at U.S. Century Bank Arena on Wednesday night to 36 minutes of oscillating momentum and more charges taken than Bloomingdale’s on Black Friday, the game remained available to all.
So, Alexis Hyder and Briesha Wynn reeled it in for North Texas, 66-59.
In those last four minutes, which began with the score tied 51-51, Hyder had seven points and a key rebound while Wynn had six points and a rebound. FIU senior guard Jerica Coley, the game-high scorer with 28 points, dropped in six points and a steal in those same eventful final four minutes.
FIU (8-10, 2-3 in Conference USA) closed the first half on a 12-3 run to trail 31-23 at halftime, then took the lead in the first 3:04 of the second half. The turnaround started with the non-Coley Panthers sinking shots. Brianna Wright, Kamika Idom and Arielle Durant accounted for nine of FIU’s first 11 second half points as FIU closed to 36-34.
Coley gave FIU its first lead of the game when she grabbed a North Texas air ball, went coast-to-coast for a layup and three-point play. FIU built that lead to 47-40 before North Texas (8-10, 2-3) responded with its own 11-2 run to snatch the lead back.
After Coley tied it with a jumper, Hyder dropped in two free throws. A three-shot, three-miss FIU possession was followed by Hyder banking in a three-pointer at the shot clock horn. That’s the basket that gave North Texas the cushion FIU never could entirely erase, although Coley almost did by herself. She sank two free throws, stole the inbounds pass for a layup that got FIU to 57-55.
But FIU could get neither a stop nor a rebound off a missed North Texas free throw. Twice in the final 1:25, FIU got outhustled to such rebounds. On the first, Laura McCoy’s rebound led to a Wynn layup and 61-55 lead. The second saw Hyder beat several Panthers to the ball with 18 seconds left and FIU down 64-59. Her two free throws sealed the game.