Florida Atlantic (9-10, 5-3) held on to win against a determined Arkansas Little-Rock (5-14, 1-7) tonight at FAU Arena by a final score of 77-74.
The Owls are off to their best start in league play (5-3) since joining the Sun Belt Conference.
FAU trailed 37-32 at the break after shooting just 32.4% from the floor, but rallied to take a 75-65 lead in the second half with 3:52 left.
“We started to finally move people and the ball, setting screens, (with) Greg and Shavar knocking down shots”, said Mike Jarvis.
However, the Owls would go scoreless until just :29 seconds remained, as the Trojans went on a 9-0 run to close to 75-74.
“Sometimes when you’re behind, you’re down six, you’re down nine, it’s a lot easier to shoot the ball. There’s no pressure on you”, said Jarvis about the late run by the Trojans.
"But when things are on the line, things get tight.”
That’s when Alex Tucker, who sank the game winner against Middle Tennessee last Thursday, stepped to the line to seal another FAU win with two clutch free throws.
“Coach has been getting on me about missing, so I didn’t want to miss these”, Tucker said. "Just took my time and put them in.”
Tucker (10 points, 5 assists) was also busy setting up Gantt’s 29 point career high shooting effort.
“He (Gantt) got mad at me one time because he was open for a lay-up under the basket. But I didn’t want him to shoot that, so I had him come off the screen and hit the three”, said a smiling Tucker.
Gantt appears to be the major benefactor of Jarvis’ four guard line-up, which features two points, and was introduced five games ago in an 83-69 home win against Troy.
Since then, FAU is 4-1 while Gantt has posted a scoring average of 20.1 points per outing.
“He’s the guy you come down (the court), and search out. He’s shooting with incredible confidence, and starting to read screens better”, Jarvis said.
After calling a time out with :18 left, UALR had a chance to tie the game. But a swarming defensive scheme by the Owls forced a three point attempt at the buzzer by Solomon Bozeman that was well off the mark.
The Trojans saw four players post in double figures, with Bozeman's 21 points leading the way.
Florida Atlantic will host Sun Belt leader Arkansas State (11-6, 6-1), who defeated FIU 76-61 tonight, on Saturday at 7:00 p.m.