The Florida Atlantic basketball team prepared all offseason as if oblivious to outsiders’ expectations, but head coach Dusty May said recently the Owls looked—and shot—tight in scrimmages. He speculated that a little collective anxiety might be creeping in after all on the eve of the season.
For the first 14 minutes Wednesday against Loyola-Chicago, the Owls play indeed lacked characteristic fluidity and the Ramblers found themselves hanging with them on the scoreboard.
But then guard Brandon Weatherspoon, no stranger to making momentum-jolting plays throughout his career, hit two three-pointers 30 seconds apart generated by good ball movement. The Owls looked a lot more like themselves for most of the rest of the way toward their season-opening 75-62 victory.
Center Vlad Goldin (pictured left via FAU Athletics), an offensive focal point against the undersized Ramblers, matched his career high with 19 points and added 10 rebounds. But it was Weatherspoon’s shooting that sparked a 22-10 run that opened a 43-30 lead at halftime.
The score was 21-20 when Weatherspoon connected from the left side off a pass from forward Giancarlo Rosado and 24-22 when he hit from the right corner assisted by guard Bryan Greenlee (pictured right) to make it 27-22.
Weatherspoon was in the starting lineup for guard Alijah Martin, who is working his way back from injury. He finished with 12 points in 24 minutes on 4-for-5 shooting. He also was disruptive on defense, part of a team effort that forced 18 Loyola turnovers and took the Ramblers out of their offensive rhythm for most of the night.
“I thought (Weatherspoon) was incredible on both sides of the basketball,” May said. “He’s such an energizer for us and when the shots go in, it’s icing on the cake.”
Guard Nick Boyd finished with 13 points for the Owls. Guard Johnell Davis added 12. Martin finished with five points and seven rebounds in 25 minutes.
The Owls are off until they face Eastern Michigan next Tuesday in their home opener. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+ at 7:00 PM.