Florida International U

Pound, Davydova lead FIU Panthers to Classic win

Save last spring’s run to the Conference USA tournament final, the 2014 calendar year went long on the pain and light on the results for FIU women’s basketball. But they closed it feeling good after a 68-55 win against Bowling Green in FIU’s Sun & Fun Classic at FIU Arena on Tuesday night.

Four players scored in double figures, led by redshirt freshman forward Kiandre’a Pound’s 20 points. Pound also grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds, while 6-3 senior Marita Davydova slapped away five Bowling Green shots.

On one sequence, Davydova blocked Sarah Baer’s layup in transition only to see 5-8 Rachel Myers get the rebound. An extended arm altered Myers layup attempt and the rebound fell to Baer. Baer got a two-for-one-trip deal on rejections when Davydova packed her shot out of bounds.

FIU (3-8) held Bowling Green (7-5) to 27.0 percent shooting from the field, 17 of 63, keeping intact a perfect split — in the three games the Panthers have held opponents under 47.6 from the field, they’re 3-0. At or above 47.6, they’re 0-8. Hayley Puk led Bowling Green in scoring with 12 points.

“I think everybody contributed tonight,” FIU associate head coach Inge Nissen said. “We held them down inside. We controlled their shooters. We didn’t give up a lot of drives to the basket. Overall, I think it was a very nice defensive effort as a team.”

Davydova said, “I’m just happy we won. Finally we played like a whole team,” Davydova said. “It’s a great feeling, especially because it’s our last game in the [calendar] year. Before the game, we were like, ‘Let’s go out and have some fun. And play like a team.’ ”

A 7-0 Bowling Green run whittled FIU’s 11-point second half lead down to four at 43-39. But a jumper off the dribble by junior guard Taylor Shade, a three-pointer by junior guard Destini Feagin off a Shade assist and a Shade three-pointer restored the lead plus one, 51-39, with 8:05 left. It was all over but the customary fouling and free throws.

FIU’s third win of the season placed them third in the 30th annual Classic. Hampton (5-8) took the tournament title by upsetting Auburn 44-42 Tuesday afternoon.

Auburn (9-4) opened the tournament Monday night by smoking FIU 81-44.

“At times, we get a little disjointed and go in different directions,” Nissen said. “We had a terrible loss [Monday] night. I guess they were out to avenge that and show that they’re a better team than losing by [37] points to Auburn.”

Davydova said, “We need to go forward. That was yesterday. Yesterday is past. We are living in the present, so we’re not thinking about yesterday.”

Sunday, FIU opens Conference USA play against FAU at home.

“This is a really nice effort,” Nissen said. “Going into the Conference USA schedule now it gives the kids some confidence. We’ve played some tough teams and we do not have a great record. But they’ve had those experiences playing against the tougher teams, even though we lost, they learned something. I think that’s going to serve us well.

“Tonight’s win, we exploited them inside, we got outside shots, we got fast breaks. It was a total basketball game. And that was nice.”

▪ Nissen handled the FIU bench while head coach Cindy Russo dealt with the death of her mother.

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