Both the men’s and women’s basketball teams suffered losses to the University of Miami this past week. While FAU was the underdogs in both, was it blowouts or did the Owls make it competitive against an ACC program?
Let’s take a look at both games:
An unsurprising result happened Tuesday evening in Abessinio Court at FAU Arena: The Miami Hurricanes basketball team beat the Owls.
However, FAU made the game very interesting in the final seconds where at one point, the game was tied. But in the end, the Canes squeaked out a win in Boca Raton, 68-66.
The comeback came up just short.
Final from Paradise. pic.twitter.com/fDmtLqp7pr
— FAU Men's Basketball (@FAUMBB) November 17, 2021
The phrase of a “tale of two halves” has been used so many times before in a sports story, but it is truly the best representation of the Owls performance tonight.
In the first half, the Owls missed opportunity after opportunity as they committed 11 turnovers, while continuously missing shots from the free throw line. The latter would be an aspect that would haunt them the entire game.
It was a packed house at the arena against a big AAC team, the players on FAU did seem rattled and had the jitters. In the eye test, this was self-evident as the Owls didn’t play up to their potential and forced bad shots, and even passed up on some.
We FELT the energy.
Thanks for your support! 🔴🔴 pic.twitter.com/IbupYOK18X
— FAU Men's Basketball (@FAUMBB) November 17, 2021
The largest lead for the Hurricanes was 16 in the first half and it seemed that the game was dead in the water.
When the second half arrived, FAU came to play. The crowd was electric and instead of that flustering the Owls, they thrived by it.
With 18 seconds left in the game, Owls guard Bryan Greenlee made a contested shot in the paint to get the bucket and the foul. While missed free throws haunted the Owls all night, it was a blessing in disguise today as Greenlee got his own rebound, passed it to Michael Forrest and made the three to tie the game.
It was the first time all-game that FAU tied or was in distance to take the lead and it was with 16 seconds left in the game.
Hurricanes guard Isaiah Wong silenced the rowdy Boca crowd by making a tough shot at the rim to give them the lead and eventually the game.
FAU Head Coach Dusty May commented not only on the shot made by Wong, but his assessment of the team:
“Hats off to (Isaiah) Wong, he got a basket in a crucial situation,” May said. “But I think we did grow up from the first half to the second half. We are a work in progress, but we have a chance to be a very good basketball team.”
May also touches on the last run made by the Owls to get out of trailing by double-digits:
“There was eight minutes left and we felt like we were still playing poorly,” May said. “I do think that our guys’ character, and their positivity, they felt like we had another run in us. We made the last eight minutes very, very interesting.”
Forrest led the team in scoring with 21 points with Alijah Martin behind him with 17 points. Coming off of an injury, Greenlee was impressive in his limited minutes with nine points, which came in clutch towards the end of the game.
Greenlee talked after the game about how he felt out there while still not being 100 percent.
“Compared to my first game back, I definitely felt a lot more comfortable just being able to move around and being able to play at full speed on my ankle because I mean, even now, it’s still a little tweaked, but it feels good when I’m out there, so I feel good. I’m not gonna lie, especially in the flow of the game, I wasn’t really thinking about it.”
Because of Greenlee’s injury, Martin has been getting the start since the beginning of the season, but it could be a permanent placement. Martin has shown that he can be a very productive two-way player as his defense has been dominant while his offense has shown out. Besides the 17 points, he had six rebounds, three steals and a block.
This was also Everett Winchester’s first time back in the starting lineup as he finished with seven points, four rebounds while playing 25 minutes. He talks about what the team is going to focus on in practice as they head into a weekend filled with games.
“Definitely free throws and turnovers,” Winchester said. “Not miss our free throws, not trying to turn the ball over so much. It’s playing into our strengths. Just playing our game also, you know, the crowd came out today. Everyone kind of had some jitters, we just got to just play our game no matter what if we have a crowd, if we don’t have a crowd, just play the same way every time.”
This game will go down as a frustrating one especially since Miami didn’t play a good game shooting the ball as they shot 36 percent from the field and 20 percent from deep. FAU could’ve had this game won, but their first half performance clearly showed the jitters as Winchester mentioned.
The free throws keep getting repeated, but those are a lot of points that the Owls left on the board. They made 10 out of 24 free throws.
However, while moral victories don’t equal a win in the column, the Owls putting up a competitive fight against a top AAC team is a “glass half-full” rather than a “glass half-empty” situation. If it proved anything, fans should be excited about this team as the schedule moves forward.
Up next for FAU is UT Martin and North Dakota who the Owls will face on Friday and Saturday, respectfully.
Riding high after a two-game winning streak, the women’s team fell to the Hurricanes in Coral Gables, 56-46.
When looking at the final statistics of this game, one number should stand out to anyone that takes a glimpse: the amount of turnovers. The Owls turned the ball over 28 times.
It’s rare for a team to come out on top when the turnover number is that high, and as it usually results to, the Hurricanes had 26 points off of the turnovers, which ultimately led to their downfall.
Final from Coral Gables. pic.twitter.com/aTWLj7xQSe
— FAU Women’s Basketball (@FAUWBB) November 19, 2021
In the same vein the men’s team lost, the Owls played the Hurricanes pretty well. Miami shot 31 percent from the field and 16 percent from deep. For the Owls, they shot 38 percent from the field while shooting 29 percent from three.
FAU Head coach Jennifer Sullivan talks about the game and gives her viewpoint in how the team played.
“I’m really proud of the team’s fight and execution on the defensive side of the floor,” Sullivan said. “We held them to under 60 points, but we obviously need to get better at taking care of the ball. We are going to get better and bounce back at North Florida on Sunday.”
Rita Pleskevich led the team in points with 12 while also having five rebounds and four assists. Janeta Rozentale had 11 points while also bringing seven rebounds, which led the team at the end of the game.
Amber Gaston and Alexa Zaph had down games which could have led to the Owls not out-scoring the Canes. Gaston finished with 10 points and three rebounds, while Zaph had five points on 1-6 shooting and also accounted for seven turnovers.
The game was never a blowout as coach Sullivan and the players kept themselves in the game, but they also kept themselves out of it.
FAU will look to right their wrongs as they stay on the road to take on the University of North Florida on Sunday. After, they return home to their renovated locker room face Tulsa and Davidson as a part of the “FAU Thanksgiving Tournament,” so there will be a lot of opportunity to gain some ground.
The wait was worth it 😌
Ladies and gentlemen, we present to you our new locker room 🏠 pic.twitter.com/YN4lEUdrUJ
— FAU Women’s Basketball (@FAUWBB) November 11, 2021
As said about the men’s team, basketball is thriving in Boca Raton and at Abessinio Court.
While both teams lost to the University of Miami, there was a lot to be excited about and build upon as they look to be a force in the conference.
Photo courtesy of FAU Athletics.
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