Women’s basketball drops home contest to FIU, 66-59
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The JU women’s basketball team let its foot off the throttle and paid for it as FIU rode a late first half run to a 66-59 victory in non-conference action on Monday night in Swisher Gymnasium.

The Dolphins (5-3) had a 23-point advantage in the first half (29-6, 10:37) before the Golden Panthers (5-4) a 36-12 run between the two halves to take the lead and to secure the victory.

Finda Mansare paced FIU with a game-high 19 points, while Michelle Gonzalez added 17 points on 13-of-14 free throw attempts to help give the Golden Panthers a 92.3 percentage (24-26) at the charity stripe. Gonzalez also recorded seven steals in the game.

“We let them off the hook,” said JU head coach Jill Dunn. “I liked how we were able to jump on them early, but our team was not able to slow them down when they came at us. We need to learn how to finish the entire 40 minutes if we want to be successful against A-Sun teams.”

Senior guard Gigi Thomas finished with a team-high 15 points as the Dolphins shot 39.3 percent from the floor and held FIU to no successful three pointers (0-10). Senior forward Taneskei Richardson scored 11 points and pulled down eight rebounds in the contest.

In the second half, FIU opened the frame strong with a 15-5 run, capped by a Mansare jumper, to take a 42-41 lead (11:52). The Dolphins keep the deficit within three points over the next four minutes before Thomas tied the game at 50-50 with a three-pointer (7:57). Thomas tied it again, 52-52, on a jumper less than a minute later, but FIU built a 58-54 lead on a layup by Jerica Coley at 3:39.

Senior forward Lynsey Paschal scored on the next trip down for JU to make it a 58-56 deficit (3:14). The Golden Panthers took a five-point lead, 61-56, on free throws from Gonzalez and Mansare in the final minute. Thomas and sophomore guard Maggie Wilson each missed consecutive three-pointers in the final seconds as FIU hung on for the win.

Coley scored 13 points to round out the Golden Panthers in double figures, while Rakia Rodgers added nine points and Fanni Hutlassa finished with 10 rebounds.

The Dolphins secured a 15-4 lead in the first half on a jumper by Richardson at 14:04. A jumper by junior guard Crystal Bell (10:39) and a three-pointer from Thomas (10:37) gave JU a 29-6 lead less than four minutes later. Bell made it 33-12 with a jumper at 7:16, but the Golden Panthers closed the half on a 13-3 run, capped by a Mansare jumper at the buzzer, for a 36-25 deficit at half time.

Bell and Paschal each finished with eight points for JU, while junior guard Ashanti Williams had seven points off the bench.

The Dolphins look to snap this two-game skid on Friday when they host Wake Forest in Swisher Gymnasium at 7 p.m.