FAU suffers heartbreaking loss to Western Kentucky 88-85


Marquan Botley converted a floater with under five seconds left to tie the game at 71. Photo by Max Jackson

For most of the game tonight, the Florida Atlantic University Owls (7-8, 0-4 in Conference USA) and Western Kentucky Hilltoppers matched up evenly and after one half of physical play the game was tied at 31.

Both teams struggled to find their shot in the first half. The Owls shooting 38 percent and WKU shooting 39 percent respectively. FAU junior guard Jackson Trapp lead all scorers with 10 points at the half while shooting an efficient 4-of-6 from the field and 2-of-3 on his 3-pointers.

The Owls matched the Hilltoppers with 18 rebounds in the first half, an area which they have struggled in since a foot injury to senior center Justin Raffington. Freshman center C.J. Turman had five rebounds and senior forward Kelvin Penn had four rebounds in the first period.

The second half was much of the same story for the Owls as they continued their hot shooting. At the 13 minute mark in the final half, the Owls were 9-of-18 on their 3-pointers. For the game, they shot 14-of-32 from behind the arc.

“We emphasized it (shooting) in practice,” said Botley. “We shot it well all week in practice. I think that carried over.”

The Owls had a 13 point lead in the second half with 12 minutes left, but could not hold onto it. The Hilltoppers stormed back, dwindling the lead to five points with about six minutes left. Senior center Kelvin Penn fouled out in the second half which forced head coach Michael Curry to play freshman center C.J. Turman the rest of the game.

“You feel for him when he gets those fouls,” said Curry about Penn. “We need him on the floor.”

The Hilltoppers (11-5, 4-0 in Conference USA) eventually had a 71-69 lead late in regulation. Sophomore guard Marquan Botley hit a floater to tie the game at 71 and send it into overtime.

During the last 17 minutes of overtime and regulation FAU committed eight of their 13 total turnovers and this led to seven points off of turnovers for WKU.

“We just sped ourselves up, we weren’t sure what we wanted to do with the basketball, we were indecisive,” said Botley about the turnovers.

Turnovers slowed the Owls down in overtime and they were not able to slow down the duo of senior forward George Fant and senior guard T.J. Price who combined for 50 points and 18 rebounds.

Sophomore guard Marquan Botley and junior guards Jackson Trapp and Solomon Poole all had 20 or more points. Poole with 21, Trapp with 20 and Botley leading them with 22.

This is the Owls fourth straight loss. They are still seeking their first Conference USA victory of the year.

“We’re doing a lot of good things, just not winning games,” said Curry about the loss. “Winning is a habit that you have to develop.”

FAU plays a home game against Marshall University on Saturday Jan. 17.