Florida International rode a 15-point second half lead to an 87-82 victory over Western Kentucky Saturday night in Sun Belt Conference basketball. The Panthers (14-12, 9-8) were cruising at 77-62 but saw the visiting Hilltoppers (13-14, 7-9) pull to within four points, 80-76, in the final minute. FIU then hit seven of eight free throws over the final 33 seconds to preserve the victory. The Panthers led throughout the second half after Tymell Murphy's driving layup just before the first-half buzzer gave them a 42-38 lead at the break. Murphy led all scorers with 20 points. George Fant, who had only seven points in the first half, led the Hilltoppers with 17. The win gave FIU a split of the two-game season series with Western Kentucky and also snapped a two-game losing streak for the Panthers. The Hilltoppers, who lost their third game in a row, beat the Panthers 76-63 in Bowling Green in late December.
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