Owls lose 78-76 to North Texas, third straight loss


Justin Raffington converts an easy dunk. Raffington scored 27 points and grabbed 6 rebounds in the 78-76 loss.

Wesley Wright

Florida Atlantic University (10-18) lost to North Texas (14-13) on Feb. 22, the Owls’ third consecutive loss.

Before the game, North Texas was given a technical foul for hanging on the rim during warmups. Guard Pablo Bertone hit just one free throw. The Owls hit five of their first seven shots, and FAU went on a 7-0 run to give itself an early lead. Three straight turnovers quelled all of the Owl momentum, and UNT tied the game at 21 with 9:11 left in the half.

North Texas guard Brandan Walton made a 3-pointer from the ring just before halftime to whittle down the FAU lead from eight to five, and the Owls led 41-36 after 20 minutes of play. The Owls shot a remarkable 62 percent from the field, and Bertone scored 16 points in the half.

North Texas got to the rim much more effectively in the second half, capitalizing on a scrambling FAU defense that seemed a step or two behind for the entirety of the game. Behind left another Owl scoring drought, the North Texas Mean Green had a 52-46 lead with 14:09 left — FAU scored just five points in the first six minutes of the half.

Down 56-49 later in the half, Bertone made a three pointer from the left wing to bring the FAU deficit to just four. UNT increased their lead to ten after a layup by guard TJ Taylor made the score 64-54.

A few mishaps doomed the Owls late in the game. Center Justin Raffington made a layup through contact to make the game 73-70, but the big German missed the resulting free throw. Raffington finished with a career high 27 points and six rebounds on the night.

Guard Marquan Botley threw an errant fast break pass to fellow guard D’Andre Johnson on the next possession. Johnson leaped out of bounds to compensate for the inaccurate pass, only for the ball to careen into the hands of a UNT defender.

Max Jackson  |  Photo Editor Mike Jarvis directs his point guard, Marquan Botley.
Max Jackson | Photo Editor
Mike Jarvis directs his point guard, Marquan Botley.

“They played like freshmen tonight,” head coach Mike Jarvis said of Botley and Johnson, his freshmen guards. Jarvis then said that Botley would need to become the team’s third scoring option, but that Botley was not yet ready to take the responsibility the role entailed.

FAU shaved the UNT deficit down to just one point after Marquan Botley banked in a 3-pointer late that made the game 74-73. North Texas made their free throws late, and the game ended in their favor, 78-76. FAU plays Tulane on the road on Feb. 26, their final road game on the season. They will finish the year with consecutive home games versus Southern Mississippi (23-5) and a rematch versus FIU (13-15).

Note: Head coach Mike Jarvis says center Dragan Sekelja’s back is still “very bad,” and that the amount of court time Sekelja will see from here on out will depend on the shape he can get into. Sekelja aggravated a hernia in his back during the Jan. 21 win over the Harvard Crimson.

Wesley Wright is the Sports Editor of the University Press. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @NotEvenWes.