SAN ANTONIO — UTSA clamped down defensively, but it could not overcome a poor shooting night in falling to FIU, 53-40, on Wednesday night at the Convocation Center.
Tesha Smith scored a career-high 19 points by connecting on 8-of-11 from the field and she also snatched nine rebounds. McKenzie Adams also set a career-high with 10 rebounds in the Roadrunners' (11-10, 2-6 C-USA) lowest scoring output of the season.
Jerica Coley, the nation's leading scorer averaging 30.3 points per game entering Wednesday's contest, finished with a game-high 20 points. Tynia McKinzie poured in 14 to round out double digit scorers for FIU (11-10, 5-3 C-USA)
The win for the Panthers was head coach Cindy Russo's 700th career victory.
Both teams clamped down on the defensive end in the first half negating any offensive momentum. The Panthers took a 21-18 lead into the halftime break on the strength of nine points from Coley. Still, Coley needed 12 shot attempts to reach her halftime total with Niaga Mitchell-Cole and Mathilde Hergott providing a stern defensive test for the nation's leading scorer.
Smith was the only Roadrunner to connect on a field goal attempt going 4-for-6 in the opening 20 minutes for eight points. As a team UTSA shot 4-for-23 (17 percent) from the field but held a 23-16 edge on the glass.
FIU broke the offensive freeze with a 6-0 run to open the second half with a Coley layup sandwiched between two more layups by Tynia McKinzie to take a 27-19 lead.
Back-to-back field goals from Smith pulled the Roadrunners back to within five, 27-22, with 15:35 remaining. Another layup from the freshman three minutes later inched the Birds to within four.
That's when Coley took over. The senior guard scored six straight points and eight points total in an 11-2 Panthers run to cement the game away.
The Roadrunners would get no closer than eight over the games final 10 minutes.
UTSA concludes its brief two-game homestand Saturday with a 4 p.m. contest with Tulane (16-6, 7-2 C-USA).