FIU Fends Off B-CU Rally; Cats Fall 74-72
MIAMI – Bethune-Cookman cut a 12-point deficit down to one and had the final shot, but Florida International held off the Wildcats 74-72 Monday afternoon.
The Wildcats closed to two points on a Ricky Johnson lay-up with 17 seconds remaining and had the final shot after an Alex Smith steal, but a Wildcat three-pointer bounced off the rim.
Tymell Murphy scored 20 points, Malik Smith had 15 points and Jerome Frink double-doubled with 11 points and 11 rebounds as the Panthers (7-7) built a 58-46 lead on a Murphy lay-up with 10:28 remaining.
Bethune-Cookman (5-11) closed to within one point on three occasions – 67-66 with 4:08 left on a Dukes three-pointer, 69-68 on two Javoris Bryant free throws with 2:13 remaining and 71-70 on an Adrien Coleman lay-up with 1:46 to play – but the Panthers answered each time.
In the first half, Bethune-Cookman took an early 26-16 lead on a Coleman lay-up with 6:37 left, but the Panthers rallied to take a 35-32 halftime lead.
Coleman led Bethune-Cookman with 20 points, followed by Dukes with 15 and Bryant with 14.
The Wildcats’ Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference home opener is Saturday at 4 p.m against North Carolina A&T.
HEAD COACH GRAVELLE CRAIG
"All you ask for is an opportunity to win the game. We had a good look with a play we usually run at the end of the game, we just couldn't knock it down.
"This is how the games in conference games are going to be close. We have to execute down the stretch, get the round or get the stop."
[On Kevin Dukes and Javoris Bryant]
"It was good to get them back on track scoring. Energy-wise, they played well."
NOTES: This was Coleman's second straight 20-point game and third in the past four games; He also had a team-high seven rebounds in the ninth game this season he's led the team on the boards ... Dukes matched a season-high with four three-pointers ... Bryant reached double figures for the first time since the 12/3 Stetson game and was a season-best 6-6 from the line ... Smith had four blocks ... Malik Jackson had his first career start and scored five of B-CU's first seven points ... This was the first time this season B-CU has scored 70 or more and lost.