Owls rally vs. Royals in thrilling triple-overtime victory

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FAU Head Coach Mike Jarvis sat through most of the regulation against Warner Southern University sporting a blank expression, his left hand covering part of his face as he stared aimlessly while his lackadaisical Owls trailed a team they should have disposed of easily.

Jarvis’ mood changed, however, as he watched his Owls transform a potentially shocking loss into a 106-99 triple-overtime victory over their NAIA Division II foes at The Burrow on Thursday, Dec. 10.

“I wanted a good game, but I didn’t want it to be this good,” said Jarvis. “We were very, very, very blessed to win it.”

Point guard Raymond Taylor, who suffered a slow start versus the Royals, was one of the heroes for the Owls (4-3), performing in the clutch by going 10-10 from the free throw line in the third overtime. Taylor finished with 25 points and seven assists, both being FAU team highs.

“For most of the game we kind of felt like we were going to win,” said forward Brett Royster. “We were confident in the fact that we could pull the game out, so we just went out and played as hard as we could.”

Royster added 23 points and seven blocks, both career highs. Royster was one block shy of the school record.

The game was dominated throughout regulation by the energetic Royals, but FAU mounted a comeback late in the second half and leveled the score.

To make matters worse for Warner Southern, guard Brennan Taylor fouled out with 3:52 remaining in regulation. Taylor finished with 14 points.

“I felt that affected them a lot because he hit a couple big shots early,” said Raymond Taylor. “That was one guy that we did not take at face value. We have got to learn; in the game of college basketball, everyone is good.”

Trailing 85-84 in the first overtime, the Owls had a chance to claim victory when Greg Gantt stepped to the free throw line with five seconds left. Gantt scored the first of two shots but missed the second, forcing the game into another extra period.

After a back-and-forth second period, the Owls entered an unprecedented third overtime. FAU finally put the game out of reach as a slim 8-3 run at the start of the period proved to be the decider in the Owls’ last game before Sun Belt Conference play.

“This is probably the best thing that could have happened,” said Jarvis. “We had a tough game and won it.

“One thing about young people, they are much better when their backs are against the wall and they have to claw and fight their way out. We are all at our worst when we get comfortable. This was a game to keep us from getting comfortable, so I love it.”

The Owls start conference play on Saturday, Dec. 12, at University of Louisiana-Lafayette. The game can be seen live on ESPN360.com or locally on channel CSS at 2 p.m. EST.