Saturday's FIU women's basketball 76-72 win against FAU might've been the best overall game I've seen Jerica Coley play in the three seasons I've been covering FIU this time around.
On one play, Coley got a floorburn to beat an FAU player to a loose ball, came up dribbling, went the length for an underhanded layup, leaping across a defender so as to draw contact. And hit the free throw to tie the game.
She shot efficiently, 15 of 28 from the field. She created open spaces for teammtes, then fed them (six assists). In a game that turned on rebounding, Coley came down with 12 and not just long ones. She had four blocks, one a Tymell Murphy-style swat into the bleachers when FAU's Shaneese Bailey pulled up in front of Tynia McKinzie, who played one of the best positional defensive games you'll see.
McKinzie also had a signature sequence and it came with FIU up 62-61 in the final 4:30. Bailey executed a perfect steal on the perimeter and raced in for what would've been an easy layup had McKinzie not rumbled down, measured Bailey's path, planted and got her hands in the air just before Bailey lifted off. Having to alter the layup, Bailey missed it. Coley scored at the other end to put FIU up 64-61. Takia Brooks drove in only to find McKinzie as omnipresent as the security guard in You, Me and Dupree. Brooks got her own rebound, went back up with it only to find the same McKinzie problem. Coley came down with the rebound.
Three misses, all caused by McKinzie. My unofficial count was 10 easily makeable shots she messed up. None of that will show on a stat sheet under her name. But she did it with such good anticipation, she committed only two fouls.
"I was just trying to be more aggressive in trying to get to the rim, maybe get some fouls in the beginning," Coley said as she and her teammates signed autographs for a long line of kids and their parents. "I don't want to keep taking jump shots in the beginning, so I did that too warm up. And we were pretty good on the boards."