Florida Atlantic (8-10, 4-3) split its two game Sun Belt road trip in thrilling fashion with a win against Middle Tennessee (8-10, 3-3) on Saturday night by a final score of 61-60.
FAU is 3-1 in its last four games and currently tied with South Alabama for second place in the eastern division.
The Owls jumped out to an 8-2 lead early in the first half, but both teams battled back and forth the remainder of the period until a Shavar Richardson three gave FAU a 30-27 advantage at halftime.
Florida Atlantic struggled to make free throws in the second half – missing five straight at one point - as the Blue Raiders amassed their largest lead at 11 points.
But, ahead 56-52 with 2:19 to play, Middle Tennessee returned the favor down the stretch going just 2 of 9.
The Blue raiders shot just 46.4% from the line for the contest.
“I know how difficult it is for Middle (Tennessee), their coaches and fans. One team had to win and luckily it was us”, said Owls head Coach Mike Jarvis.
Greg Gantt was quiet with five points, but came up big when it counted, nailing a three to tie the score at 57-57 with 54 seconds remaining.
A Montarrio Haddock lay up gave the Blue Raiders their last lead at 60-59.
That set up Alex Tucker’s game winning basket with just :03 left to play in regulation.
“I pushed the ball and I heard (Head) Coach Jarvis say take the ball strong, so I just put my head down, took the shot, and got the lucky bounce”, said Tucker.
“He (Tucker) did a great job. He held the team together. When we needed somebody to do that, he did it”, said Jarvis.
Despite fouling out for the second straight game, Brett Royster was solid defensively with seven blocks.
Middle Tennessee’s Desmond Yates, who also fouled out, led all scorers with 19 points despite playing just 20 minutes.
In an expected defensive effort, Middle Tennessee rattled FAU for 14 turnovers; capitalizing in 15 points off of them.
However, the Owls still managed to see three players post in double figures - Hughley (11), Richardson (10), and Taylor (10).
Florida Atlantic returns to Boca Raton to host the University of Arkansas-Little Rock (5-13, 1-6) on Thursday night for the first of a two game home stand. Tip-off time is 7:00 p.m.