Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.

UNIVERSITY PRESS

Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.

UNIVERSITY PRESS

Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.

UNIVERSITY PRESS

Dramatic Overtime Victory Sends Owls to Quarterfinals

March Madness came to Boca Raton a day early in what proved to be the most thrilling game of the season for the Owls. Rowdy students stormed the court in jubilation as FAU escaped with a 91-88 overtime victory to keep their season and hopes of a Sun Belt championship alive.

Carlos Monroe led FAU with 26 points, and senior DeAndre Rice added 23 to go out a winner in his final home game. Rice carried the Owls down the stretch, scoring 19 points after halftime. Monroe tipped in the decisive basket in overtime to put the Owls ahead for good with 29 seconds remaining in the extra period.

Along with Rice’s heroics was a total team effort by the Owls. Every FAU starter scored in double figures except Brent Crews, who had 11 assists. The Owls trailed by 9 with 7:25 left in the second half but managed to pull out the victory in front of the 2,017 fans gathered in “The Burrow.”

“They showed their heart tonight,” said FAU Head Coach Rex Walters. “Good teams find a way to win, and they did tonight.”

Alex Galindo nearly won the game for FIU in the final minute of regulation. Trailing by one, he hit a deep three pointer that put the Golden Panthers up by two with 28 seconds remaining. Rice then hit two free throws to send the game into overtime.

In overtime the Owls again found themselves behind, this time by 3 with 2:29 left. From there, DeAndre Rice made a driving lay-up that brought the Owls within one. That opened the door for Sean Alarcon’s unexpected impact. Brent Crews, the designated defensive stopper and offensive distributor, fouled out with 1:54 to go in regulation. That left Alarcon, a little-used junior guard, to play the most significant minutes of the season. After an FAU miss, freshman guard Erick Nsangou gathered the long offensive rebound and dribbled towards half court to take some time off the clock. Then Alarcon struck.

“I just saw him dribbling out and got a read and snuck up behind him,” Alarcon said. “I know coach purposely put me in the game for defense and that’s what I focused on.” After poking it free, Alarcon scooped up the loose ball and drove to the hoop for an uncontested lay-up, giving his team a one point lead.

“Sean is always trying to do what I ask him to do,” Walters said. “He stayed the course and made the big play.”

FIU then reclaimed the lead on a jumper by Johwen Villegas. The Owls season teetered on the brink of disaster with just under a minute left in overtime, down by one. Rice then carried the ball down the floor and took a quick jump shot that clanked off the rim. Carlos Monroe gathered the rebound and on his third try finally tipped it in to put the Owls ahead for good.

The game was marred by sloppy play throughout and a brief scuffle in front of the FIU bench following a hard foul by FAU’s Carlos Monroe. A flagrant foul was called on Monroe and no ejections were made, as cooler heads prevailed.

The win sends FAU to the Quarterfinals of the conference tournament at the Cajun Dome in Lafayette, Louisiana and ends FIU’s season. Sixth seeded FAU will play the three seed, Western Kentucky at 10 p.m. on Sunday night.

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