Ruiz Paneto drops 38 in one-point loss to Pioneers

Ruiz Paneto drops 38 in one-point loss to Pioneers graphic.
Ruiz Paneto drops 38 in one-point loss to Pioneers. (Jan. 12, 2024)

(Box Score)

HIALEAH, Fla. (Jan. 12, 2024) – A 10-point Conquistadors lead was slowly erased Friday, as the Crowley’s Ridge College Pioneers delivered a clutch 88-87 win over Florida National University. This was FNU’s first taste of Continental Athletic Conference (CAC) action since Nov. 20, when FNU delivered a 12-point win over Voorhees University in overtime. In another close battle versus one of the CAC’s best, the Pioneers sneaked out a win off an impressive fourth quarter, outscoring FNU 33-22.

CRC got slightly ahead of Florida National, ending the first quarter with a 20-17 advantage. Their performance from the free throw line was the difference maker, as the Pioneers connected on five shots from the line while FNU went 0-2 in the frame. Hunter Gibson posted seven points in the frame to lead the Pioneers. Jullie Ruiz Paneto and Louise Pilley combined for 11 points for the Conquistadors.

Before the break, CRC went ahead 37-35 but shot 31.6% in the frame. The Conquistadors performed well from the floor but could not connect on all four attempted threes. Kaylee Llanos had four solid points from the bench, while Pilley and Ruiz Paneto continued to produce, combining for 10 points in the second. 

The third was a turning point for FNU, as the Conquistadors outscored CRC 30-18 to exit the period up 10. A made jumper from Ruiz Paneto tied things up at 41 with 7:14 on the clock. FNU went on a 21-14 run to close out the third. Ruiz Paneto put the team on her back with 17 hard-earned points, which included shooting 75% from long range in 10 minutes of play. 

But a brilliant third quarter was not enough to shut the door on the Pioneers. CRC kept themselves within seven points for the majority of the frame. With 1:34 left on the clock, Reigiana Ward drilled a three to make it an 85-84 FNU lead. Following a missed jumper from Janelisse Marty Marrero, Ward knocked down a mid-range shot a few moments later to put her team up one. Some heroics from Ruiz Paneto on a clutch two pointer allowed FNU to hang on for an 87-86 lead with 38 seconds left.

CRC, however, closed out the game on a 1-2 performance from the free throw line with Gibson’s eventually game-winning basket coming with just two seconds on the clock. 

Ruiz Paneto was electric in the loss with 38 points, eight rebounds and four assists. Llanos ended the night with 14, while Pilley and Marty Marrero combined for 23. 

Up Next: The Conquistadors end their time in Temple Terrace, Fla., with a 6 p.m. game versus No. 23 College of the Ozarks Jan. 13.

Continental Athletic Conference (CAC) logo.