By Joel Delgado ’12 MS ’17
For 19 years, former FIU women’s basketball star Albena Branzova held the distinction of being the program’s all-time leading scorer.
It was a good run.
With 15:21 remaining in the second half of the Panthers’ first ever Conference USA matchup against Rice on Jan. 8, senior guard Jerica Coley took a handoff pass from Arielle Durant and drained a three-pointer to break the record at the U.S. Century Bank Arena.
“It was an open look and I had a couple more before that, but it was the one that I made,” Coley said. “I took my time and that was probably the difference.”
Needing just eight points coming into the game to become the new all-time leading scorer, Coley scored 16 points in a 59-41 loss to Rice. She now has 2,524 points for her career with 15 games remaining in the regular season.
Branzova, who played at FIU for four seasons under Russo from 1991 to 1995, scored 2,515 career points and still holds program records for field goals made (1,033).
“It just shows that with a lot of hard work and a lot of good coaching you can accomplish goals like that and good things happen,” Coley said.
Coley struggled to gain traction in the first half with the Rice defense zoning in on her for most of the opening 20 minutes of play, but in a 30-second span between the 13:45 and 13:15 mark she had quick offensive burst.
After converting a free throw, a layup in transition and then turning a steal into a three-point play, she brought herself within two points of the record. But she wasn’t keeping track.
“I knew I needed eight points but I wasn’t really counting,” Coley said.
Despite struggling from the field under Rice’s relentless double-teaming of Coley she also registered 11 rebounds in the loss, giving Coley her second double-double of the season.