It did not take long for March Madness to live up to its moniker.
In the first round of the Conference USA Men’s Basketball Championship tournament in Birmingham, Ala., the No. 10 seed FIU Panthers (16-16) upset the No. 7 seed UTSA Roadrunners (14-16) thanks to a half court buzzer beater as time expired.
After UTSA guard Keon Lewis hit a three-pointer with just 2.7 seconds remaining in regulation to tie the game 54-54, it seemed like the Panthers and Roadrunners would need to go to overtime to determine a winner.
But FIU senior guard Dennis Mavin took the ensuing inbounds pass and heaved a shot from half court that went off the backboard and in with no time left, stunning the No. 7 seed Roadrunners and sending the FIU bench into a frenzy to celebrate their 57-54 victory.
“I just wanted the ball in my hands,” Mavin said in the post-game press conference. “I knew I had to get a good shot off… luckily it went in.”
Mavin led the Panthers with 15 points and nine rebounds in the Panthers’ first ever Conference USA tournament victory. Ray Rodriguez added 14 points with four three-pointers to help buoy the FIU offense.
Now the Panthers will take on the No. 2 seed UTEP Miners (21-9) on Thursday, March 12, at 1 p.m. in the conference quarterfinals. In their lone regular season meeting this season, the Panthers lost 67-64 in a closely contested battle at FIU Arena on Feb. 7. Tomorrow’s game can be watched online at American Sports Network’s website.
To read more about the men’s basketball team’s tournament win over UTSA, go to FIUSports.com.