Lady Owls battle, but ultimately come up short in 68-65 loss to FIU

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Forward Chenise Miller looks past an FIU defender for a score. Miller made a team-high 16 points against the Panthers Saturday, March 2. Photo by Ryan Murphy.

Forward Chenise Miller looks past an FIU defender for a score. Miller made a team-high 16 points against the Panthers Saturday, March 2. Photo by Ryan Murphy.

The Lady Owls’ seniors were sent off in disappointing fashion.

Blowing several late chances to capture a win, FAU suffered a 68-65 loss to FIU at The Burrow in Saturday’s regular season finale (and Senior Night contest).

The Owls held a four-point lead — 65-61— with two minutes remaining, but allowed FIU to storm back and tie it up with a pair of jumpers.

Knotted at 65, FAU then committed a turnover, failed to get open looks, and ultimately didn’t score a single point in the last 2:15, leading to their fourth loss in their last five games.

It was a tough loss for the Owls’ two senior players, most notably guard Breana Turner, who finished with nine points (on 4-10 shooting) and eight rebounds in her FAU home finale.

“I’ve been here for five years,” a visibly upset Turner said. “To get the win today would’ve meant everything to me. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen.”

Guard Takia Brooks rushes to the basket during the first half. The Owls entered halftime down by one, 34-33. Photo by Ryan Murphy.

Guard Takia Brooks rushes to the basket during the first half. The Owls entered halftime down by one, 34-33. Photo by Ryan Murphy.

Turner was one of four Owls players to score nine or more points. Forward Chenise Miller led the team with 16 points. Guard Kimberly Smith had 15 points (including four 3-pointers). Briah Blakely chipped in with 12 points on a solid 5-8 shooting.

“I’m very proud of my teammates [for how they played today],” Turner said. “Very, very proud.”

Coach Kellie Lewis-Jay, equally as frustrated, wanted her seniors to depart in better fashion.

“It’s unfortunate we couldn’t get this win for Brea and [forward] Kelsey [Proctor],” Lewis-Jay said. “They’re two kids on the team that everyone believes in and wanted to have a special senior year.”

In a tight, back-and-forth affair that featured eight lead changes and ties, FAU went to halftime trailing 34-33. They shot 42 percent from the field in the first half, and improved on that total in the second half, connecting on nearly 45 percent of shot opportunities.

In her final home game, senior guard Breana Turner fights for a rebound. FAU lost to FIU Saturday afternoon 68-65. Photo by Ryan Murphy.

In her final home game, senior guard Breana Turner fights for a rebound. FAU lost to FIU Saturday afternoon 68-65. Photo by Ryan Murphy.

Overall, the Owls finished 43 percent from field goal range, 27 percent from beyond the arc, and 60 percent from the free-throw line.

FIU, however, shot better (48 percent) and dominated FAU in the rebounding department (40 to 29), the latter contributing to FIU’s 10 second-chance points.

The Owls complete their regular season with a 12-16 overall record and 9-11 Sun Belt Conference mark. Depending on how other matchups shake out, FAU will sit at either the seventh or eighth seed in next week’s Sun Belt tournament.

Lewis-Jay says her squad will be up for the challenge.

“We got a little something to prove now going into the tournament,” Lewis-Jay said. “We know where people think FAU stands, and we got a little chip on our shoulder.”

FAU begins the Sun Belt Conference tournament on Friday, March 8 in Hot Springs, Ark.

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