The Parthenon

Herd victory for women’s basketball

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Richard Crank
Herd women take on Florida International University Thursday in the Cam Henderson Center.

“[Kopp] always said 'win the game,' and we found a way to do that in the first game since his memorial here." - Matt Daniel

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Senior forward Leah Scott and center Chukwuka Ezeigbo led Herd women’s basketball as it rallied from a second-half deficit to defeat Florida International University 67-61 Thursday night in the Cam Henderson Center.

The Herd’s first victory over FIU in the program’s history was its tenth win of the season, and it moved its conference record back to 0.500 at 2-2.

Ezeigbo was active throughout the game offensively and defensively as she flirted with a triple-double, finishing with 11 points on five of six shooting, 15 rebounds and eight blocks. She was effective when defending FIU’s leading scorer Kiandre’a Pound in one-on-one situations, forcing her to shoot just 10-25 on the night. Offensively, Ezeigbo’s activity and rebounding positioning led to seven offensive rebounds, which resulted in several second chance points for the Herd.

“The thing about [Ezeigbo] is her energy, and it’s consistent”, head coach Matt Daniel said. “I thought she was prepared to play, she kind of studied the game in the first half and then made her adjustments in the second half offensively and defensively.”

Not very many times can students or student athletes go on a campus and they know the president. Every one of our girls know who Dr. Kopp was, every one, that’s winning.”

— Matt Daniel, head coach

Scott tied for the team lead with 19 points (7-14 FG) while also chipping in with six rebounds. She was effective throughout the night, driving to the basket on quick, decisive moves while also utilizing her post-up skills for easy baskets inside. Scott scored 14 of her 19 points in the paint with the other five coming via the free throw line.

The Herd was in control for much of the first half, leading by as much nine with 10:26 remaining, but a scoring drought in which it earned just six points in the final nine minutes allowed FIU to pull within four, 28-24 by halftime.

The second half opened with a 15-8 FIU run as the Golden Panthers went up by five with 11:30 remaining. The Herd was quickly able to rally after junior guard Norrisha Victrum’s steal and fast-break layup capped a 9-5 Herd run to cut the lead to one with 8:40 remaining.

After a nip and tuck battle over the next four minutes, the Herd went ahead for good on a 3-point play from Scott with 4:14 left. Excellent free throw shooting down the stretch clinched the victory as the Herd made eight free throws in the final four minutes. Four of which came from senior guard AJ Johnson, who scored 19 points despite shooting just 3-12 from three.

The game was the first in the Cam Henderson Center since President Stephen J. Kopp’s memorial service Tuesday. Kopp died Dec. 17, and the Herd women used his legacy as inspiration for the game.

“[Kopp] always said ‘win the game,’ and we found a way to do that in the first game since his memorial here,” Daniel said after the game. “Not very many times can students or student athletes go on a campus and they know the president. Every one of our girls know who Dr. Kopp was, every one, that’s winning.”

Bradley Heltzel can be contacted at [email protected]

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