Entering tonight’s contest against Western Kentucky, Florida Atlantic’s game plan was to get out in front early.
And they did just that, downing the Hilltoppers 78-73 at Diddle Arena for their sixth straight win and a program best run at the DI level.
It was also the first victory against WKU in the Mike Jarvis era.
“It’s been a long time coming, but you know what, it’s been worth the wait. It’s a good thing we jumped out tonight, because we needed that cushion obviously”, said Head Coach Mike Jarvis.
Conversely, the loss for the Hilltoppers (5-11, 0-4) ties the worst start in conference play since the 1972-73 season.
After holding Western Kentucky scoreless for three minutes, FAU hit three straight from long range en route to 20-6 first half advantage.
The Owls (14-6, 6-0) shot 5-of-7 from beyond the arc during the frame, building as much as a 15 point margin, and led 40-31 at intermission.
Western Kentucky began the second half with purpose, eventually tying the game at 49-49 at the 11:28 mark just before the Owls encountered front court trouble with Brett Royster and Jordan McCoy picking up their fourth fouls.
But it wouldn’t matter, as a three point play by Kore White immediately thereafter put FAU back on top for good.
“I don’t know how much longer we’re going to be able to do that; we’ve got to find a way. And, I think the way is guys have got to mix up their defense…they can’t know where you are all the time”, Jarvis said.
Four players tallied double figures for the Owls in Greg Gantt (18), Ray Taylor (17), White (15), and Jordan McCoy (10). White added a team high nine rebounds as well.
Steffphon Pettigrew paced the Hilltoppers with a career high 31 points on 10-of-17 shooting.
Florida Atlantic will enjoy some much deserved time off before returning to action next Saturday in their first nationally televised match up against Arkansas Little Rock on ESPN2. Game time is 1:00 p.m.