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UNO Upsets Owls in First Round of SBC Tourney 51-50

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Nicole Holmes made a pair of free throws with 2.9 seconds remaining to lift the No. 12 seeded University of New Orleans to a thrilling 51-50 upset victory over fifth-seeded Florida Atlantic in first round action at the Sun Belt Conference Championships on Saturday morning.

With the win, UNO (11-19) defeated FAU (14-15) for the second straight year in the first round of the SBC tournament and will advance to face fourth-seeded Denver at 12:15 p.m. on Sunday in a quarterfinal contest. The Pioneers were a 69-57 winner over ULM in Saturday's other early first round game.

One of the top free throw shooters in school history, Holmes stood at the line and made both attempts from the charity stripe with 2.9 seconds, the second shot after a FAU timeout. The free throws capped a frantic finish for the Lady Privateers, who never led by more than two points at any part of the contest.

A Candice McGee lay-up with 1:21 left in the game gave the Lady Privateers a 48-47 lead. The lead would change hands several times with the Owls moving ahead 49-48 after Carla Stubbs after scoring on a second-chance opportunity with 13.8 seconds left.

UNO's Brittany Helm made 1 of 2 free throws to knot the score at 49 with nine seconds left, before Jessica Knurick made 1 of 2 on the other end with eight seconds left to provide a 50-49 score setting up the sequence for Holmes, when she was fouled by Lyrell Barfield.

Holmes was one of four seniors, joining Helm, McGee and Rachele Monroe, in stepping up for head coach Amy Champion.

Helm led the way with 17 points while Monroe, making the fourth start of her collegiate career, scored a career-high 14. McGee rounded out the group with 12 points and tied Holmes for the team-high in rebounding with seven.

FAU was led by Stubbs and Teri Stamps, who scored 13 and 12 points, respectively.

In the second half, FAU led by as many as nine points with a 40-31 lead at the 13:55 mark. The Lady Privateers began to cut into the lead after the Owls were held without a made basket from the field for nine minutes, which allowed UNO to gain a 43-42 advantage on a Monroe lay-up with 4:02 left.

FAU led 23-20 at the half, after looking as if they may run away with the game from the opening tip.

The Owls connected on their first four attempts from the field - all three-pointers - to move ahead 12-5. The hot start went cold quickly however, as the Lady Privateers held FAU to 2 of 20 shooting from the field and off the scoreboard for nearly nine minutes to climb ahead 18-16 on a Monroe basket.

A Stamps three-pointer ended the drought by the Owls, giving the team the lead back and an advantage they would keep into the break.