After trailing the whole game, FAU found itself down 1 point with 10 seconds remaining.
At that point, Alex Tucker secured a rebound andwith four seconds remaining and found Brett Royster alone under the rim for an easy go-ahead bucket. Royster rose and delivered the game-winning layup for FAU as it defeated conference rival FIU, 73-72, at The Burrow on Saturday.
“[Tucker] just pushed it and got the best shot available, basically,” said Royster. “We knew we had limited time to work with, and Al, everybody knows he can create with the best of them. I honestly thought he was going to shoot it.”
The layup by Royster gave FAU its first, only, and most important lead of the night.
Throughout the game, FIU’s athleticism gave the Owls trouble as the Golden Panthers exploited FAU’s defense for nine 3-pointers in the game, though their free-throw woes hurt their chances.
Prior to Royster’s layup, FIU had a chance to ice the game with two free throws awarded to their senior guard Phil Gary.
Gary missed both free throws, giving FAU another chance to win the game.
“We do everything to secure the victory, but at the end of the games, we don’t make free throws to take it home,” said FIU coach Isiah Thomas.
Prior to the game, FAU fans were enticed to attend the rivalry game with “Bury the Burrow in Red” T-shirts.That prize enticed plenty, as after the game FAU announced a crowd of 2,961, the Owls’ first sell-out of the season.
“Tonight was probably the loudest I’ve ever heard this building, and that had a huge effect on the entire game,” said Royster.
The crowd support helped allow FAU to stay close enough throughout the game, ultimately propelling the Owls to an important victory.
“It’s a great program win. That was a great character win,” said FAU head coach Mike Jarvis. “These kids have come a long, long way. Many of these same kids a year ago would have panicked. But they just kept grinding and sometimes grinders end up winning the race.”