FAU guard Cavon Baker goes up for a shot in the second half of the Owls' game vs. American. (Owl Access Photo)
FAU overcomes a sluggish second half by scoring when it counts and defeats American 58-55 in the Owls' home-opener on Saturday.
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BOCA RATON – Florida Atlantic shot 26.9 percent from the floor in the second half, but made its shots when it counted in a 58-55 victory vs. American on Saturday at The Burrow.
Freshman guard Stefan Moody sank the game-clinching three-pointer for the Owls with 15 seconds remaining and also knocked down two free throws to secure the victory.
“He’s our best offensive player,” said Owls coach Mike Jarvis. “He had the guts to stand up and take the big shot and make it. Then go to the free throw line and make it.”
Moody, who entered the game as the Owls’ leading scorer, scored all eight of his points in the second half, including five in the final 15 seconds when FAU needed it most.
“For whatever reason—maybe because he thought he’s a freshman and he’s not supposed to be our leading scorer—he deferred too much and passed up too many opportunities,” he said. “So I think he learned a lot. He also knows I’m not going to let him do that. That’s why I put him back in there at the end of the game. If we’re going to have a good season he has to be on the court for us.”
FAU (2-3) led most of the first half keeping the Eagles in check, but American (2-3) came alive in the closing minutes of the first half sinking three 3-pointers to close the gap to one point at halftime.
After shooting a respectable 50 percent (11-of-22) from the floor in the first half, FAU shot a dismal 26.9 percent (7-of-26) in the second half. But American had shooting struggles of its own opening the door for the Owls to take advantage.
“Defensive execution,” said senior guard Greg Gantt when asked about the team’s struggles. “They were scoring a lot in the paint. [There was a moment] where they had three or four straight offensive rebounds before they kicked it out for three,” Gantt said.
“But we fought back and came up with the win.”
Gantt led the Owls with a game-high 23 points and five rebounds and freshman guard Jackson Trapp had 12 points and five assists.
“This team, this stage in the year, for as young as we are, I thought we showed a lot of character,” Jarvis said. “And that’s the main thing.”
Game Browser: FAU 58, American 55
- Moving forward: Senior guard Greg Gantt scored a game-high 23 points and added five rebounds…Freshman guard Jackson Trapp impressed coach Mike Jarvis with a 12-point, 5-assist performance…While he only scored 8 points, 5 of which came in the final 15 seconds, freshman guard Stefan Moody scored when the Owls needed it most. He also added a team-high 6 rebounds.
- Moving backward: Junior guard Pablo Bertone struggled going 1-of-5 from the floor, 0-of-2 from three-point range and 1-of-2 from the foul line…Junior center Dragan Sekelja scored only 4 points and nabbed 4 rebounds.
- Key stat: FAU hit 43.5 percent of its shots from behind the arc, but just 32 percent of its 2-point attempts
- Up Next: The Owls will open conference play when South Alabama comes to the Burrow on Thursday at 7 p.m.