With a bid to the NCAA tournament at stake, FAU squandered its opportunity. The Owls all but ended their season with a 78-64 loss to North Texas in the opening round of the Sun Belt Conference tournament.
Despite being a no. 1 seed in the tournament, FAU was dealt a laborious path in facing last season’s Sun Belt champions in the opening round game.
In a season filled with firsts – a 21-win season, Jarvis being named Sun Belt Conference coach of the year – FAU added another to the list, although this one would end its March Madness hopes.
Coming into the game, FAU was 18-0 when leading at halftime, and took a 34-27 halftime lead into the locker room tonight. That streak was snapped as FAU was outscored 51-30 in the second half by North Texas en route to a flattening defeat.
The Mean Green of North Texas were led by a career-high 32 points from Tristan Thompson, who went 20-20 from the free-throw line.
FAU stormed out to a 6-0 lead to start the game and held the lead up until Shavar Richardson fouled of the game with ten minutes remaining in the second half, giving North Texas two free throws and a 52-51 lead.
Going into halftime, FAU was shooting 57% compared to North Texas’s 30%, but the Owls held just a seven-point lead partially due to 16 free throws surrendered to UNT compared just three for FAU..
That free-throw advantage, unlike the score of the game, would hold up throughout the entirety of the contest.
North Texas shot 40 free throws in total, and missed just six of them, while FAU missed 11 of its 25 charity stripe attempts.
The game turned with seven minutes to play as FAU was down 58-56.
Ray Taylor jumped in front a pass and had a clear path to the basket for an easy layup, but botched his attempt. Following the play, Taylor chased down the ball and got yet another steal, this time throwing it to Greg Gantt standing alone, for the moment, in the corner.
Gantt was quickly swamped by two defenders, and in an effort to rid himself of the ball, stepped out of bounds, giving it back to North Texas.
Minutes later, FAU found itself down 64-57 with little time remaining. The Owls ultimately lost and that result ended their hopes of an appearance in the NCAA tournament.
After winning the regular season Sun Belt conference title, FAU will still play in a post-season tournament, albeit not the main tournament.
FAU will be playing in the NIT tournament, which begins March 15. The Owls won’t know their opponent until the selection process is completed on Sunday, March 13th.