How did the FIU men’s basketball team hold Old Dominion to 40.3 percent shooting from the field, make more free throws than the Monarchs shot, yet still lose 64-60 on Saturday night?
Volume! Volume! Volume!
That’s the volume of shots the Monarchs took (62, 11 more than FIU), a difference created largely from the volume of offensive rebounds (20, only one fewer than FIU had defensive rebounds), which led to the volume of second-chance points (22).
And, there’s the volume of three-pointers or lack of volume from FIU: a lone Elmo Stephen make and 10 misses from beyond the arc. Teams can win in modern college-affiliated basketball getting outscored 18-3 from three-point range. But that’s like saying you can win the Saturday night Play 4.
That’s getting beaten inside and outside. There’s no question to FIU coach Anthony Evans which damaged the Panthers (11-11, 5-4 Conference USA) more in their third consecutive home loss.
“Second-chance points,” Evans said. “There were a couple of critical rebounds they got toward the end. I think that played a bigger part than the three-point shots. Obviously, it was a four-point game. Came down to the stretch. We were down two at one point. They got a couple of rebounds we needed to come up with.”
One that jumps out for how close it came to FIU having the ball with a chance to tie came with the Panthers down 60-58 in the final minute. With the shot clock a dribble from done, fifth-year senior Trey Freeman fired up an off-balance jumper from about 16 feet. FIU Arena exulted at the miss, then groaned as Old Dominion redshirt sophomore Brandan Stith grabbed his sixth offensive rebound.
Freeman eventually got fouled and dropped in two free throws, creating a two-possession game with 34.4 seconds left. That wounded FIU. A three-point shot by FIU junior Jason Boswell got in the basket, did a lap around the inside of the hoop, then hopped out to Stith. That killed the Panthers.
That was Stith’s lone defensive rebound to go with his six offensive rebounds. That left him one behind Monarchs junior Denzell Taylor, who pulled down seven of his game-high 11 rebounds at the offensive end.
If you want to go by the theory that in a close game, all possessions matter, Taylor beat FIU for just as important an offensive rebound in the first half. Old Dominion (12-10, 5-4) packed five points of a 7-0 run into one trip down the court.
As Aaron Bacote lofted a one-hander over FIU senior center Adrian Diaz, the Panthers’ Daviyon Draper got called for a foul inside that gave the Monarchs the ball back after the basket. A Taylor offensive rebound reset the offense for Ahmad Caver’s three-pointer.
In stark contrast, Diaz’s game totals on the boards read three offensive, zero defensive. Diaz’s team-high 21 points came off 8-of-11 shooting from the field and 5 of 7 from the line.
“Scoring points is fun, but I want to help the team win,” Diaz said. “Tonight, I should’ve helped rebound more.”
Unlike Diaz’s efficient 21 points, Freeman took 29 shots for his game-high 25 points. Aside from a first-half mini-spurt, FIU kept Freeman tepid after three consecutive 28-point games for him.
“We tried to mix it up,” Evans said. “We played some zone so we could have some coverage behind him when he came off the screen, so there were two guys there. But, obviously, he’s a good player. He shot 29 shots. He’s a good mid-range shooter. Those shots were going in. You have to live with that.”