Golden Eagles edged by FIU, 76-70
MIAMI, Fla. -- Florida International made nine of its final 10 free-throws over the final 1:39 to defeat Southern Miss, 76-70, on Thursday night inside the Ocean Bank Center.
"If you look at every game for FIU, it's always a close, tough ballgame," head coach Doc Sadler said. "It's what I expected. We are just not good enough yet to overcome 17 points' difference at the free-throw line. We had a couple of opportunities there but didn't capitalize. It's hard to win on the road when you don't get to the free-throw line."
FIU (10-13, 4-6 C-USA) opened the second half on a 12-2 run, opening its largest lead of the game at 43-30. The Golden Eagles, however, responded with a 13-2 run over the next five minutes to close the gap at 45-43. Kevin Holland also connected on a three-pointer with 7:05 left to pull Southern Miss within 50-45.
The Golden Eagles were able to get within five once more, at the 2:32 mark.
"Even though we went with a small lineup, we only allowed one offensive rebound in the second half, which is good," Sadler said. "Their three guards are really good, and we just need some different guys to step up. I told the team after the game that not a lot of teams in this league can win on the road giving up 76 points."
There were five lead changes and three ties in the first half, and the Golden Eagles largest lead came when it was 5-0. Cortez Edwards finished with a layup with 19 seconds remaining in the period, but FIU's Eric Lockett hit a long jumper before the buzzer for a 31-28 Panther lead.
The Golden Eagles (11-12, 4-6 C-USA) will now look to regroup over a short trip to Boca Raton, where they will battle FAU at 6 p.m. CT on Saturday.
-Tyree Griffin's 11 assists marked the fourth time in his career he's accomplished the feat. He also did it against Rust on Dec. 3 and Kansas and Kansas State while playing at Oklahoma State in 2015-16.
-It was also Griffin's fourth-career double-double (third this season).
-LaDavius Draine (11 points) has reached double-figures in five of his last six games.
-Dominic Magee (11 points, nine rebounds) finished just shy of his second double-double.
-Cortez Edwards was perfect on three deep attempts, the fifth time he's made three, three-pointers in a game.
-Southern Miss leads the all-time series 3-2.
-Southern Miss lost the turnover battle for just the second time all season (Florida State, Dec. 21).