Owls improve to 3-4, beat Red Wolves 72-65 for first Sun Belt win of the season

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Freshman guard Stefan Moody lunges toward the hoop in the first half of Saturday’s FAU basketball game. Photo by Michelle Friswell.

Zack Kelberman

Freshman guard Stefan Moody lunges toward the hoop in the first half of Saturday’s FAU basketball game. Photo by Melissa Landolfa.

The one-day sweep of visiting Sun Belt Conference opponent Arkansas State is complete.

Led almost exclusively by guards Greg Gantt and Stefan Moody, the Owls’ men’s team defeated the Red Wolves, 72-65, improving to 3-4 overall and 1-1 in conference play. Earlier in the day, FAU women’s basketball knocked off Arkansas State 79-71.

Gantt, who totaled a career-high 29 points in Thursday’s loss to South Alabama, put on a repeat performance with another 29-point output, shooting 8 of 13 from the field, 3 of 4 from beyond the arc and hit 10 of 11 free throws.

“Coach told us to stay aggressive and take our shots,” Gantt said. “We just stayed patient and played our game.”

The senior guard also chipped in six rebounds and an assist, pleasing head coach Mike Jarvis in the process.

“I get on him a lot,” Jarvis admitted. “But he did a good job tonight.”

Moody started the game on the bench, but the freshman guard didn’t stay there for long. He finished with 22 points –– tying a career-best –– and made half of his field goals (7 of 14).

Between the two, Gantt and Moody accounted for 70 percent of the Owls’ points. As you could imagine, that doesn’t say much about the rest of the team.

The other starters –– Jackson Trapp, Pablo Bertone, Jordan McCoy and Dragan Sekelja –– all had non-descript outings.

Trapp played the most minutes (39), but failed to turn them into points, recording just three buckets. This didn’t bother the Owls’ head coach.

The freshman point guard was deployed more in the “candyman” role, as Jarvis put it, spreading the ball around to the squad’s hot hands.

“He’s the glue, he distributes the candy,” Jarvis said. “It’s really more about Jackson getting the ball to the right guys than it is about any of them.”

Bertone (4 points) and McCoy (1 point) were non-factors, and Sekelja (6 points, 7 rebounds and a block) ran into foul trouble in the second half, limiting his time on the court.

The 7-foot center re-entered the game with 2:10 remaining, when the Owls desperately needed his presence as Arkansas State mounted a comeback.

Freshman guard Jackson Trapp attempts to score against the Arkansas State Red Wolves. FAU ultimately won the game 72-65. Photo by Melissa Landolfa.

Thanks in large part to Gantt and Moody, however, FAU fended off the Red Wolves. As a team, the Owls shot better both from the field (.469 to .375) and three-point line (.444 to .368), and collected more rebounds (14 to 7), all of which led to a late nine-point lead –– their largest of the night –– that they didn’t relinquish.

Though the Owls have much to work on, the victory made Jarvis the winningest D-1 coach in school history (55 wins). That, in itself, is a major accomplishment in this young season.

“It feels great,” Jarvis said. “It always feels good to win. It particularly feels good when you know the kids were playing as hard as they could. That’s what the team did.”

The Owls hit the road for a meeting with the Stetson Hatters on Thursday, Dec. 6 at 7:00 p.m.