HIALEAH, Fla. (Jan. 9, 2024) – Florida National University’s men’s basketball team put up a valiant effort against a tough Continental Athletic Conference (CAC) foe and the NAIA’s No. 25 Florida College Falcons (14-4) Tuesday. FNU (3-11) fell to the Falcons 75-72 after a thrilling back-and-forth battle at Conn Gymnasium. The Falcons had a tough night from the free throw line but were able to seal the game on 2-4 shooting down the stretch to take a late lead.
Florida National came to play with a solid first half in Temple Terrace, Fla. Despite the Falcons holding a 44-32 lead at the break, it was clear that FNU was always within striking distance. FC got solid production for their bench in the opening half, especially from Bryan Bayonne. The guard went 4-7 from the field for 11 points to lead all Falcon scorers. A made jump shot with 1:45 left on the clock from Ray Daniel Parrish made it just a five-point game until the Falcons went on a 7-0 run heading into halftime.
Notably, Matias Montezuma was electric from behind the arc, connecting on four threes for 12 first-half points.
In the second, FC saw its 15-point lead disappear as FNU pushed themselves back into the contest. FNU trapped well and used their stellar zone defense to keep the Falcons off the board. FC did not help their case with 50% shooting from the free throw line (10-20). In his first game back with the Conquistadors, Jovan Debrito nailed a clutch three pointer with 11:22 on the clock to put FNU ahead 59-58 and forcing a Falcon timeout. This tug of war continued for the remainder of the contest, as the game was tied at 70 apiece with 3:26 on the clock.
A foul from Parrish sent Jashavius Perdue to the line where he went 1-2 to put the Falcons up by a point. Their next time on offense off a missed FNU layup resulted in a clutch three from Bayonne to put his team ahead two possessions with 1:44 on the clock. The Falcons were able to manage the clock perfectly despite a couple of jump ball turnovers from undersized guard Deonte’ Martinez.
Parrish cut the lead in half on a quick layup before FC took a timeout to avoid another jump ball at midcourt. Martinez did make up for his errors in the midcourt on the free throw line to make it a 75-72 ball game with seconds left on the clock. A last-minute three-point heave from Gary Adams missed the mark as the Falcons ushered in their 14th win of the season.
Montezuma and Debrito recorded a team-high 14 points apiece while Ronald Fernandez, Parrish and Adams ended the night in double figures
Up Next: Florida National returns to action tomorrow against the College of the Ozarks in Temple Terrace, Fla.