0-5. That was the Florida Atlantic Owls’ record in games — decided by five points or less — entering their most recent game versus the Owls of Rice University.
Led by 20 points from senior guard Pablo Bertone, the Owls finally earned their first conference win and road win of the season.
Rice led 26-11 in the opening minutes of the contest, threatening to blow the game open and doom the FAU Owls to their seventeenth consecutive road loss.
A 7-0 run put FAU right back in the game and the teams traded baskets until halftime. FAU went into the halftime down 30-25, but a 7-2 run to begin the second half gave them their first lead.
A series of lead changes ensued, but FAU began to carve out a small lead with just under eight minutes left in the game. Up 56-49 with 7:38, FAU looked poised to take control of the game and win convincingly.
But the other set of Owls fought back gradually. Several Rice three pointers and some shoddy FAU execution down the stretch combined to shave the FAU lead all the way down to one point with two and a half minutes remaining.
FAU guards Bertone, Marquan Botley, D’Andre Johnson and Jackson Trapp hit just enough free throws down the stretch to secure the game. Down 71-68, Rice turned the ball over and after two made free throws from Trapp, the game came to an end at 73-68.
With a season record of 5-11, the FAU men return home for a Jan. 16 matchup with East Carolina, the first of three consecutive home games.
Wesley Wright is the Sports Editor for the University Press. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @NotEvenWes.