Owls lose 69-68 to Hatters on buzzer-beating shot


Guard Greg Gantt scores two of his game-high 23 points during FAU’s 69-68 loss to Stetson. Photo by Max Jackson.

Zack Kelberman

Guard Greg Gantt scores two of his game-high 23 points during FAU’s 69-68 loss to Stetson. Photo by Max Jackson.
A buzzer-beater at The Burrow left the home crowd broken-hearted Tuesday night.

With time expiring, Stetson guard Chris Perez banked in a clock-beating putback, giving the Hatters (3-7) a 69-68 win and stunning the awestruck Owls (5-6) in a game that featured six lead changes and four ties.

“We should’ve beat this team tonight here at home,” Owls head coach Mike Jarvis said. “We didn’t execute and gave them a chance to win. We were selfish and they took advantage. So, they got a nice bus road home and we have a long night in Boca.”

FAU guard Greg Gantt (23 points, five assists, three steals) played 39 minutes due to the absence of guards Stefan Moody and Cavon Baker. The guards were hit with three-game suspensions for “violation of team rules.”

Though he didn’t touch on the specifics of the suspensions, Jarvis hinted that the outcome may have been different if they were in the lineup.

“With them, it probably wouldn’t even be a question,” Jarvis said. ”It hurt not having Moody, maybe our most talented player, out there. It puts more of a burden on Greg [Gantt]. He has 35-40 [points] tonight if they were out there.”

The final shot, which was reviewed by the officials, came on the heels of a dramatic three-pointer by Gantt, who put the team ahead 68-67 with 7 seconds remaining.

On the ensuing possession, Stetson initially missed a quick jumper, but Perez hauled in the offensive rebound and played hero for a Hatters squad that snapped a six-game losing streak.

The loss, while maddening, wasn’t an unfamiliar occurrence for Jarvis.

Sophomore guard Richard Morrow drives to the hoop. Morrow finished with six points for the Owls. Photo by Max Jackson.

“There was one time in my life where we played a game and lost at the buzzer just like that,” Jarvis said, referencing the 1989 “Measles Game” between Siena and Boston University. “That game had bigger implications, but I’ve been through this before and it hurts just the same.”

In the midst of blowing a nine-point halftime lead, the Owls went ice cold in the second half, shooting just 40 percent from the field (12-30) and 37.5-percent from beyond the arc (3-8). The difference from the first half (41 points) to the second half (27 points) was night-and-day.

Much of that can be attributed to the Hatters, who aggressively switched from zone to press defense. It threw the Owls off-kilter, and forced them into ill-advised attempts.

Another contributing factor was Stetson’s second chance points (13) and bench points (24), many of those coming when it mattered most –– in the game’s final stages. FAU did little to capitalize on the Hatters’ 19 turnovers.

However, the Owls got fantastic production from two unheralded players –– senior forward Andre Mattison and guard Richard Morrow.

The 6-foot-7 Mattison, mostly a bench player (1.6 points per game), was thrust into the lineup and flourished with 10 points and seven rebounds, several of the offensive variety. Morrow, a sophomore, scored six points and gave FAU a lift with his superb defense, drawing a tip-of-the-cap from Jarvis.

“Rich [Morrow] did a great job,” Jarvis said. “For someone who hasn’t practiced much, I thought he did really well on the defensive side of the ball.”

To Jarvis, however, that is where the positives ended. Now toting a losing record, he didn’t sound too optimistic regarding the Owls’ next opponent: the Indiana Hoosiers, rated No. 6 in the country.

“We gotta go to Indiana, less than .500,” Jarvis said. “We’ll probably be about 40-point underdogs, and it won’t be too pretty if we come out and play like we did tonight.”

The Owls hit the road to play the Indiana Hoosiers on Friday, Dec. 21 at 7 p.m.