Up tempo play lifts women’s basketball

Written by beaconnewspaper

INTENSE: During a timeout, head coach Cindy Russo discusses a play with her team. JESSICA MARSHALL/THE BEACON

After dropping the c h a m p i o n s h i p g a m e against West Virginia in the FIU/Herald Thanksgiving Classic, the women’s basketball team wanted to get back on the winning column against Fordham on Dec 1. Led by Milena Tomova’s 20 points and 14 rebounds, the Golden Panthers defeated Fordham 61-52 at Pharmed Arena.

With this victory, FIU improved to a 3-2 on the season. Early in the game, it was an up-and-down battle between the two teams. F o r d h a m e v e n l y matched every FIU attack and countered nicely by shooting mid-range shots. Well-executed fast breaks and a successful transition game proved to make the difference that night. Just eight minutes into the game, Fordham had committed five fouls and eventually went over the limit with 8:30 left in the first half.

The Golden Panthers outscored the Rams from the charity stripe 14 to seven and committed fewer than nine fouls. Head coach Cindy Russo raved about her team’s ability to penetrate and get high percentage lay-ups. “We played really well against a good team,” Russo said. “We played really hard and were able to utilize our biggest strength, which is the transition game.” Transition surely was the word of the game as the FIU outscored Fordham fourteen to zero on fast breaks.

After a rollercoaster-like first half, the Golden Panthers started off the second half with an astonishing 12-2 run that opened the gap and paved way for their victory. “Fordham seemed to be really tired after the first half,” Russo said. “I just told them to keep running the ball, and we would get our way.” With the help of bench sparkplug LaQuetta Ferguson, point guard Faeza Bouderra ran up tempo game and had the Rams on their toes throughout the game. “[Fordham University] got into foul trouble quickly, and I just wanted to penetrate the ball,” said Bouderra. “They put a lot of pressure on us, but we were able to grab rebounds and keep [the pace of the game] up.

” Going into the game, Bouderra was averaging just over six points, six rebounds and nearly seven assists per game. Bourderra nearly doubled her scoring performance and did statistically better in the other categories as the 5’5 guard hoisted a solid 12 points, eight assists and eight rebounds in the game. Playing all 40 minutes proved to be no problem for Bouderra of Mulhouse, France, as she was able to play solid defense on speedy guard Monica Mack and distribute the ball well to her teammates.

After the game, Bouderra was proud of the way her team got back on the winning column. “We out rebounded [Fordham University] and that was the key to the game,” said Bouderra. “I feel [as] if we ran the clock well and just played a much smarter game.” Tomova recorded her second double-double in three games.

The senior student liked the way FIU outplayed the Rams with an up tempo-style. “We played very good defense against a tough team,” Tomova said. “We ran a lot of fast breaks and penetrated the ball very well.” With four blocks on the day, Tomova passed Teresa Reker for fourth place on the all-time list with 102. She is now behind Albena Branzova (252), Cormisha Cotton (142), and Silvia Mesa (107). Coach Russo tweaked the lineup and gave sophomore Lasma Jekabsone the nod to start at center.

Playing a season high of 30 minutes, the player from Latvia scored six points in the first two minutes of the second half. This victory was a much needed one for FIU, as the team will face a tough University of Miami squad on Dec. 9 at Pharmed Arena. The game can be heard live on the radio on WRGP 88.1 FM.

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