Junior guard Malik Smith came off the bench to score a career-high 29 points, including a key 3-pointer with only 37 seconds left in the game, to help Florida International hold off Stetson 82-79 Sunday in DeLand. Fla.
Smith also hit five free throws down the stretch as the Panthers evened their season record at 3-3. The host Hatters fell to 2-6 with their fifth straight loss.
FIU worked its way from a 16-16 tie midway through the first half to a 36-31 lead at the halftime break and led 43-35 less than four minutes into the second half.
But Stetson recovered and took a 58-55 lead with just under 10 minutes remaining.
The two teams battled back and forth after that until FIU junior Tymell Murphy was fouled as he made a layup with 1:51 left. He converted the free throw to give the Panthers the lead for good at 72-69.
It was a two-point game when Smith hit the last of his six 3-pointers (12 attempts) to give the Panthers a little breathing room at 77-72 with 37 seconds remaining.
Junior guard Chris Perez led Stetson in scoring with 22 points.