The winning streak is still intact — but it was far from easy.
FAU allowed Western Kentucky to come back from an 11 point halftime deficit, but forward April Goins hit a pair of free throws to break a tie with six seconds left, as the Owls beat the Hilltoppers 60-58 at The Burrow for its third straight win. The victory was gratifying for Owls head coach Chancellor Dugan, who did not hide her feelings about the Hilltoppers.
“I’ve got a lot of hate towards Western Kentucky. We were big rivals when I was over at Eastern Kentucky, so I have hated them for most of my life,” Dugan said. “Anytime you can get a win over them it’s sweet.”
At the free-throw line with the game tied, Goins remained composed thanks to her teammates.
“I actually got to the line and took a deep breath and just said relax, “ Goins said of her game-winning free throws. “Usually when I go to the line it is a lot of pressure to make the free throw, but my teammates came to me before the shot and told me to take my time. I sank the game winning free throws and it felt great.”
Goins finished with 11 points and seven rebounds. FAU forward Chenise Miller led the team with 18 points and 12 rebounds. Senior guard Teri Stamp, FAU’s captain, added 10 points. Using the team’s depth to her advantage, nine Owls players were utilized for at least 10 minutes by Coach Dugan.
Yet, many statistics were not in favor of FAU. The Owls were out-rebounded (39-36) and shot 60 percent from the free-throw line. FAU also committed more turnovers than Western Kentucky (14-12) and only out-rebounded them by two (60-58).
FAU started off the game with an 8-0 run before the Hilltoppers scored its first points with 16:56 left in the first half. The Owls built a 33-22 halftime lead by holding the Hilltoppers to 29 percent shooting at the break.
Momentum would shift in the second half however, as Western Kentucky used a 10-2 run to tie the game at 50 with 7:26 remaining.
A Teri Stamps running layup with 5:50 left broke the tie, as FAU did not trail for the remainder of the game. Neither team scored a field goal in the last 2:54, as they only exchanged free throws from that point. Western Kentucky would re-tie the game at 58 behind a pair of free throws from guard Ellen Sholtes with 1:45 left before Goins sealed the win for FAU at the line.
The victory gives the Owls (11-8 overall record) a 6-2 record in conference play.
“Our team knew what was at stake in this game, I knew that Western Kentucky would come out in the second half and give us a run, but we gutted it out,” Dugan said. “We have tough kids and they played hard for each other and won. I’ll sleep good tonight.”
FAU travels to play South Alabama on Feb. 1 at 12:30 p.m.