Owls hang on
FAU builds a double-digit lead, hangs on despite furious Hilltopper comeback to defeat WKU 65-62.
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Even though Florida Atlantic has struggled to close out games this season the Owls, holding an 11-point lead with less than three minutes remaining, had to feel like they'd withstood WKU's late pressure.
It turns out the Owls needed every point of that lead, but they did manage to hang on to beat the Hilltoppers 65-62 in Bowling Green, Ky.
A combination of turnovers and missed free throws allowed Western Kentucky to come storming back in the final minutes. The Hilloppers cut the gap to a single point on T. J Price's 3-pointer with 13 seconds remaining but could get no closer.
Freshman Jackson Trapp calmly pushed the Owls lead back to three points with 10 seconds remaining; then Price missed a 3-point attempt to tie, sending FAU back to Boca Raton with Mike Jarvis' second win in five chances at E. A. Diddle Arena.
The near collapse was in direct opposition to the way the Owls started the game. FAU played one of its best first halves of the year, getting positive contributions from eight players to take a 32-22 halftime lead.
FAU (9-9, 4-3 Sun Belt) extended that lead to 15 points early in the second half only to watch WKU (10-8, 4-3 Sun Belt) launch its first major run of the game. The Hilltoppers trimmed that lead to four with 10:25 remaining, before the Owls regained their composure and quickly built the lead back to 13.
Greg Gantt led all scorers with 22 points. Stefan Moody and Pablo Bertone added 15 apiece for the Owls. Price finished with 20 for the Hilltoppers.
The Owls outrebounded the Hilltoppers 40-29 to earn a split in a two-game road trip that started with a 10-point loss to Middle Tennessee on Thursday.
GameBrowser: FAU 65, WKU 62
Moving Forward: Kelvin Penn made trips through the lane difficult for the Hilltoppers, blocking five shots and grabbing nine rebounds to go with his four points. ...Jackson Trapp played 19 minutes, hit a big three and drained two key free throws at the end of the game. ...Bertone in the field: Pablo scored 15 points and grabbed six rebounds.
Moving Backward: Bertone at the line: Pablo missed three-of-four free throw attempts in the closing minutes. ...Greg Gantt turned the ball over seven times. ...Big men Chris Bryant and Dragan Sekelja combined to play 26 minutes but neither one scored.
Key Stat: 8 - Blocked shots by the Owls, who turned up their defense against WKU.
Up Next: FAU returns home to face Troy on Thursday at 7 p.m. in The Burrow.