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Should FIU knock off Stetson Thursday in the first round of the Women's NIT, the second round game will be...well, either Saturday, Sunday or Monday, at South Florida, FIU, maybe FAU.

The NITs are the Second City of tournaments in that way -- very big on the improvisation.

FIU's got some experience with adjusting on the fly. Team X at the start of the season, unknown quantities even to themselves because of no many new players, they produced the school's best season in at least six years.

"I think this team is peaking at the right time," head coach Cindy Russo said. "They're starting to peak. I think some teams in our conference have already peaked. I enjoy watching them practice. They do some nice things out there. We went to the Sun Belt Conference (tournament) and played three good games. We didn't just get through. We played really nice basketball."

They lost to Middle Tennessee as Jerica Coley got held under double figures in scoring for the first time all season. Two key stats: Coley went 1 for 10 from three-point range and 0 free throws by FIU. That's right, Middle played 40 minutes of defense against a driving guard and somehow never sent FIU to the line. 0 free throws by FIU. Yeah.

In the last five of her school-record number of games with FIU, senior swingwoman Fanni Hutlassa's averaged 16.8 points per game, well over her season average of 13.1.

"This is the first time since I've been here that we've gone to the postseason or anything," Hutlassa said. "I don't want to be done yet."

Russo said, "She went to another level and that helped us a lot. She really wanted to make this tournament. She realized she had some unfinished business she had to take care of before she left here and certainly, she's doing that."

 

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