Owls lose all three matchups of 2K Classic

Wesley Wright

The Florida Atlantic University men’s basketball team played three games in three days this weekend, part of the 2K Sports Classic located in Detroit, Mich. and left with the worst starting record since 2007.

Here’s a breakdown of the Owls’ performance:

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Florida Atlantic vs. The University of Detroit Mercy (11/22, 7:15 PM ET)

In the first game of the 2K Sports Classic on Nov. 22, the Florida Atlantic University Owls (1-4) were soundly beaten at the hands of the University of Detroit Mercy Titans (2-2) in a game where one team simply outclassed the other.

Guard Richard Morrow scored the first basket for the Owls three minutes into the game, but possession belied a night of limited scoring for the Owls, who managed just 44 points that night.

After seven minutes, the Owls had 12 points and eight turnovers. Leading scorer and team captain Pablo Bertone had an abysmal offensive night, going just 4-15 on his way to scoring 10 points.

Bertone’s awful performances don’t come often; the Argentinian senior scored 27 points in the last game against Boston College.

FAU shot just 30 percent from the field in the first half, and would go into halftime down 32-20 to Detroit. UD went on a 7-0 run to start the second half that would blow the game open.

With 13 minutes remaining in the game, UD found itself with a comfortable 22 point lead. That eventually reached 33 points before the game came to a merciful end. The Owls suffered their fourth loss in five games by a score of 77-44 and still have yet to beat a Division 1 opponent.

Bertone was the only Owl to finish with double figures. Guard D’Andre Johnson added 8, and both center Dragan Sekelja and forward Kelvin Penn scored 6 points.

UD was led by forward Juwan Howard Jr. — the son of NBA champion and Miami Heat player Juwan Howard — who ended the game with 14 points.

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Starting Shooting Guard Jackson Trapp’s 20 points against Stony Brook were not enough to keep the Owls from falling to the Seawolves 67-61 Saturday afternoon. Photo by Ryan Murphy.
Starting Shooting Guard Jackson Trapp’s 20 points against Stony Brook were not enough to keep the Owls from falling to the Seawolves 67-61 Saturday afternoon. Photo by Ryan Murphy.

Florida Atlantic vs. Stony Brook (11/23, 3:00 PM ET)

Stony Brook (4-2) squeaked out a close win over FAU, which remained completely devoid of a regular season win over a Division 1 opponent. (The Owls lone triumph came on Nov. 8 versus Ave Maria).

Neither team was equipped offensively, but turnovers combined with shoddy shooting doomed the Owls in the first half.

Less than four minutes into the game, FAU found itself down seven points and shooting 20 percent from the floor.

Stony Brook enjoyed a lead for most of the first half, even with awful free throw shooting — at one point, the Stony Brook Seawolves were shooting just 3-12 from the free throw line.

The lack of efficiency from the line allowed FAU to hang around, even with an offense that looked terrible early on.

Starting shooting guard Jackson Trapp kept the Owls in contention with 14 first-half points. A 3-point basket by Pablo Bertone brought the Owls just one point behind before halftime.

Center Dragan Sekelja had a career-high 17 rebounds Saturday afternoon against Stony Brook. Photo by Ryan Murphy.
Center Dragan Sekelja had a career-high 17 rebounds Saturday afternoon against Stony Brook. Photo by Ryan Murphy.

FAU took a brief lead early in the second half, but it didn’t last long.  Stony Brook scored seven straight points, including a mid-range jumper by forward Jameel Warney that erased the short-lived FAU lead. Warner finished with 23 points and 19 rebounds.

With 5:35 remaining in the game, Stony Brook led 59-52. While the Owls whittled the lead down to one point in the first half, they got no closer. The Seawolves (namely guards Carson Puriefoy and Dave Coley) hit their free throws late and held FAU off. The Owls lost by a score of 67-61.

The efforts of starting center Dragan Sekelja are encouraging. The Croatian-born senior finished with nine points and a career-high 17 rebounds. Trapp finished with 20 points and Bertone added 11 points and five assists.

Moving forward, the Owls must improve their offensive efficiency. FAU shot just 30 percent from the field — not exactly a winning recipe.

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Team captain Pablo Bertone scored a career-high 29 points during Sunday afternoon’s 94-74 loss to Toledo. Photo by Ryan Murphy.
Team captain Pablo Bertone scored a career-high 29 points during Sunday afternoon’s 94-74 loss to Toledo. Photo by Ryan Murphy.

Florida Atlantic vs. Toledo (11/24, 1:30 PM ET)

Toledo (6-0) handed the Owls (1-6) their third loss of the weekend, ending the day with a 94-74 defeat despite a phenomenal 29-point effort from shooting guard Pablo Bertone.

 This was the last game of the 2K Sports Classic and the third game in just 42 hours for the Owls.

 Turnovers plagued FAU early in the game — Bertone had two in the first four minutes, despite his overall excellent performance. Center Dragan Sekelja also turned over the ball throughout the game.

 Free throws were an issue for the Owls, who shot just 3-9 from the line in the first half.  Toledo, on the other hand, shot 9-9 in the first half and 33-34 from the line for the game.

The Owls’ final loss to Toledo during the 2K Sports Classic in Detroit makes this season’s 1-6 start the worst in head coach Mike Jarvis’ (center) FAU career. Photo by Ryan Murphy.
The Owls’ final loss to Toledo during the 2K Sports Classic in Detroit makes this season’s 1-6 start the worst in head coach Mike Jarvis’ (center) FAU career. Photo by Ryan Murphy.

Toledo went on a 10-2 run to take a 7-point lead with just under seven minutes remaining in the first half.

The Owls found some difficulty in scoring the ball, going a full four minutes of game time without a field goal. A second 10-2 run by Toledo pushed the lead to 15 points with 3:32 remaining in the half.

 At halftime, FAU trailed Toledo 44-29 and looked dead in the water offensively.  To start the second half, Bertone came out much more aggressive on offense, and his team was able to drag itself back into the game.

 The senior from Argentina scored 23 second-half points and the Owls got as close as eight points down with 12 minutes remaining. Sheer fatigue would catch up to them though. The Owls just did not have it in them to make the second push needed to shave down the lead.

 Toledo opened its lead up to 16, and from there coasted to an easy win. Bertone finished with a career-high 29 points, Guard Jackson Trapp with 14, and Forward Kelvin Penn with 11 points and seven rebounds.

 The bench only managed seven points in today’s game. The second unit will have to play better as the conference season approaches.

The 1-6 start is the worst start for the FAU men’s basketball team since 2007. FAU now returns home to play the University of Central Florida on Dec. 3.