LITTLE ROCK, Ark.
- UALR (11-5, 4-4 Sun Belt) hit a season best 15-18 from the
charity stripe, but it was not enough as FIU (10-6, 4-3 SBC) claimed the
hard-fought 55-53 win Saturday (Jan. 12) at the Jack Stephens Center.
With the Trojans down 52-48 with under two minutes left, sophomore
Taylor Gault pulled up for a three
in front of the home bench but was fouled by FIU's Jerica Coley. The Panthers'
bench then was whistled for a technical foul, so Gault went to the line for
five shots. She drained all of the freebies, giving UALR the 53-52 lead with 1:31
left. It was the first Trojan lead since the opening minutes of the game.
Coley came down and hit a fade away jumper to put FIU back
up with 52 seconds left. After a UALR turnover, the Trojans got one last chance
after Coley missed the front end of a 1-and-1. Ford missed the lay-up, followed
by a split from the line by FIU for the final two-point margin.
UALR was able to keep the game in striking distance thanks
to a season-best 83.3 percent shooting (15-18) from the charity stripe and a
37-28 rebounding edge. FIU countered
with a 20-25 (80 percent) mark from the line and a 32-25 halftime edge.
Individually, Gault led UALR with 23 points. Freshman Carolee Dillard recorded her first
collegiate double-double, and second for the Trojans this season, with 16
boards and 10 points. Senior Janette
Merriex added 10 points, including
back-to-back triples which tied the game at 46.
FIU was led by Coley with 37, including 19 of the team's 23
in the second half. No other Panther scored more than six.
UALR took an early 4-2 edge thanks to a pair from the free
throw line from freshman Shanity James
before FIU took the lead with five unanswered. Merriex cut the deficit to one on a right elbow jumper with a toe on the
line, but the Panthers responded with a Coley lay-up and a pair from the line
from Carmen Miloglav. Dillard came down and grabbed and offensive rebound and
made the put back while being fouled. She missed the ensuing free throw, but
freshman Jakeisha Wells grabbed the
board. Dillard split from the line as UALR trailed 11-9 with 13:35 left.
FIU came up with another mini 6-0 run to go up 17-9 on a
Kamika Idom jumper with 10:16 left. Junior Hannah
Fohne stopped the run on a drive and bucket on the left block, but a Coley
three gave the visitors its largest lead of the game at nine. Gault tripled to
cut it to 30-25 with 1:48 left until intermission, but Coley ended the scoring
in the stanza with a lay-up.
FIU came out of the break and got the first bucket to go up
nine, but UALR went on an 11-2 run to tie the game. Gault started the spurt
with a jumper, followed by a pair for Fohne and a split from the line for
Dillard. Following a defensive stop, Merriex caught the ball on the right elbow
beyond the arc. The defense backed down and Merriex hit nothing but the net to
bring UALR back within one with 15:45 left in the game. Coley answered with the
jumper, but Merriex dialed in from deep again at the top of the key for the
third tie of the game. Coley followed with a 6-0 run herself.
UALR cut the deficit to 42-40 on a Dillard jumper and a
James stick back. The Trojans took the 53-52 edge when Gault went 5-5 from the
line after the foul and technical, but Coley scored the final three points of
the game as FIU claimed the two-point win.
UALR returns to action Wednesday when it travels to
Murfreesboro, Tenn. to take on Middle Tennessee. Game time is 7 p.m. with the
contest live on ESPN3.com.