It might have been Senior Night for FAU, but it was freshman guard Stefan Moody who stole the show.
Behind Moody’s career-high 28 point effort, the Owls defeated rival Florida International Panthers 77-60 in Saturday’s season finale at The Burrow.
Moody recorded his points on 11-20 shooting (including three 3-point field goals). He also chipped in seven rebounds, as he seemed to be buzzing around the ball all night.
“We kept huddling up and hyping each other up, telling ourselves, ‘eat, eat, eat,’” Moody said. “We all started killing it.”
Although Moody was the main contributor for the Owls, he certainly wasn’t the only one.
Senior Greg Gantt, playing his last home game at FAU, scored 16 points (on 7-14 shooting) in a team-high 37 minutes of play.
Afterward, Gantt was happy to go out on top — and beat his nemesis.
“It still hasn’t really hit me,” Gantt said. “It’s crazy. I’m just thankful for all the times I had here. But it’s huge to get a win over FIU, I hate them. To beat them at home, in front of a packed crowd in my last game, is something I’m always going to remember.”
Fellow senior Andre Mattison, who started in place of injured senior Jordan McCoy at forward, had a game to remember with a double-double effort — 14 points and 10 rebounds, both of which are career highs.
Mattison echoed Gantt’s thoughts.
“It meant a whole lot [to get this win],” Mattison said. “My mom came down to see me for the first time here at home. It meant a lot to be in front of my teammates to go out like this.”
Both players were among the seniors who were honored before the contest began. When FAU coach Mike Jarvis subbed them out near the end of the game, the home crowd went wild with applause and appreciation.
“Any time you invest as much as kids invest in these games, to put four years of your life into something, it’s really special,” Jarvis said. “We want the kids to have a happy, positive memory. That’s what they gave themselves tonight. Tonight was about the seniors.”
Aside from Moody and the seniors, FAU received a solid outing from Pablo Bertone, who totaled 13 points, four rebounds, and four assists in 29 minutes.
Overall, the Owls shot 50 percent (30-60) from the field (compared to FIU’s 37) and heavily outrebounded the Golden Panthers (44 to 28). Those two factors alone helped FAU overcome an early 10-point deficit, and take a second-half stronghold that they wouldn’t relinquish.
FAU capped off the regular season with a 14-17 overall record and 9-11 Sun Belt Conference mark.
The Owls head into next week’s conference tournament as the No. 7 seed, a spot Jarvis is grateful to be in.
“I’m just proud [of the team]. They’ve been through a lot,” Jarvis said. “We had some tough times this year. Our guys should be going in feeling very confident.”
FAU plays Troy on Friday, March 9 at 9:30 p.m. in the first round of the Sun Belt Conference tournament in Hot Springs, Ark.