It wasn’t the prettiest of wins, but for the first time since the 2006-07 season Florida Atlantic is off to a 2-0 start in Sun Belt play after hanging on to defeat Louisiana-Monroe 60-58 at Fant–Ewing Coliseum on Sunday evening.
“Especially considering they’re on the road, we’ll definitely take it”, said Mike Jarvis. “Road wins are tough to come by anyhow, and in conference they’re even tougher.”
A season high 20 turnovers, coupled with an off night from leading scorer Greg Gantt, undermined an otherwise respectable showing.
Gantt, who was in foul trouble most of the contest, logged 16 minutes and five points - well below his averages of 28.5, and 14.6 respectively.
“Anytime you’ve got a team where a lot of guys handle the ball you’re going to have more turnovers. For us to win a game with Greg Gantt being awful…that’s a pretty good sign for the Owls”, Jarvis said.
It wouldn’t matter though, as ULM (3-9, 0-1) retuned the favor in another way, going 8-of-20 from the free throw line, and missing crucial shots late in the contest.
Helping matters for FAU were solid efforts in Ray Taylor’s game high 20 points and Kore White’s (photo) 12 off the bench. In total FAU’s reserves outscored ULM’s 19-10.
Aided by Warhawk turnovers, and a seven minute scoring drought, it was all Owls early as FAU raced to 18-2 lead with just over 10:00 minutes to play in the first period.
ULM would finally jumpstart its stagnant offense, reducing the deficit to single digits before trailing 32-26 at the half.
Countering early in the second period, Florida Atlantic (8-5, 2-0) embarked on a 10-0 run to lead 44-34, and looked to establish control with 13:53 to play.
But the Warhawks lived up to their name, battling back to within a score at 44-42 after consecutive three pointers from Fred Brown.
The Owls would push the margin back to eight with just over five minutes remaining only to go cold soon after managing just four points the rest of the way.
Despite racking up four offensive rebounds in the FAU drought, missed shots (six) and free throws (seven) proved costly for the home team down the stretch.
Trailing 60-58 with less than a second in regulation, Tommie Sykes clanked the first of two attempts at the stripe off the front of the rim. He was forced to intentionally miss the second before the Owls tapped the rebound away to end the game.
“I told the kids that if we hung on to win this one we better thank God twice tonight”, Jarvis said. “I guess we have been working hard, and maybe we deserve it for all this traveling.”
Alex Tucker had a game high six dishes for FAU, while Brett Royster continued to pad his block count with five dismissals.
Florida Atlantic wraps up its five game road trip in a non conference matchup against DePaul on Wednesday night at 8:30 p.m.