A one point halftime lead turned into a 20 point loss for FAU.
FAU guard Greg Gantt scored a game-high 21 points, but it was not enough, as FAU lost 76-56 at The Burrow. A 13-2 run by FIU with 7 minutes remaining put the game out of reach for FAU.
“They came down, executed. We were fouling them for no reason. They were making their free throws,” FAU point guard Alex Tucker said. “They just had the momentum on their hand during that 13-2 run. We just couldn’t do anything about it.”
FIU scored 40 points in the paint, twice as many as the Owls.
The Owls started out the game missing 11 of its first 12 3-point attempts. FAU shot 6-27 for the game on 3-pointers.
Even though FAU held a 30-29 edge at the halftime, it shot 10-27(37 percent) in the first half.
FAU struggled from the free throw line, connecting on 12-23 foul shots(52 percent). FIU, in contrast, made 22 of its 28 attempts(78 percent). A pair of free throws made by FAU forward Pablo Bertone with 12:34 left cut the deficit to two before the FIU run that gave it a 12 point lead..
FAU forward Jordan McCoy, who helped the Owls defeat the Panthers on the road earlier in the season with a career-high 18 points, was limited this time to four points. FAU head coach Mike Jarvis figures there was a reason McCoy did not play as well.
“They probably realized he was on the court I guess for a change,” Jarvis said. “Might have said ‘hey, you know they got a kid named McCoy who’s been kicking our ass and maybe we’ve got to be a little closer to him.”
Trailing early, FAU went on a 10-0 run after a Jordan McCoy layup off of a Alex Tucker no-look lob, gave the Owls the lead a 20-16 lead with 8 minutes to go in the first half.
FAU guard Shavar Richardson had 10 points. Kore White added 8 points and 5 rebounds. Ray Taylor came off the bench to provide 4 points, 5 assists, and 3 rebounds.
Despite beating FIU five times in a row, Jarvis did not go into the game underestimating the Panthers.
“They usually play hard against us,” Jarvis said. “No matter how they play against anybody else, they’re going to come play against us.”
Alex Tucker, who said that playing against FIU is always special, concurred that the energy was lacking from his team.
“It’s always a big game when we play each other. It’s bragging rights,” Tucker said. “They just came out and showed it.”
After the game, FAU head coach Mike Jarvis said the team had no one to blame but itself for the loss.
“The difference wasn’t them,” Jarvis said. “The difference was us. We didn’t bring our A game. We didn’t bring our intensity.”
Jarvis felt his team owed more to the fans during the rivalry game.
“We let them down tonight,” Jarvis said. “We didn’t give them the one thing that I think they would have liked more than a red t shirt, was a victory, and to maybe hear the bell.”
FAU plays a home game against Denver on Feb. 9 at 7:00 p.m.