FAU loses close game to UTEP 63-56

Center+Justin+Raffington+%2811%29+scored+a+team-leading+20+points+in+the+Owls%27+63-56+loss+to+UTEP+on+Feb.+5.+Photo+by+Max+Jackson+

Center Justin Raffington (11) scored a team-leading 20 points in the Owls' 63-56 loss to UTEP on Feb. 5. Photo by Max Jackson

Josue Simplice, Sports Editor

The Florida Atlantic University Owls (8-12, 1-8 in Conference USA) faced the University of Texas at El Paso Miners in a tough matchup,  losing 63-56.

The first half ended with both teams tied at 27. During the first half FAU shot 44.8 percent from the field in the first twenty minutes of play, while UTEP Miners shot 45.8 percent from the field.

However, UTEP shot 66.7 percent from 3-point range compared to FAU’s 12.5 percent on 3-pointers. For the game, the Owls shot 39 percent and 21 percent from 3-point territory.

“We gotta make sure they execute better,” said Curry about the Owls’ offense.

The Miners’ (15-7, 7-3 in Conference USA) bench gave them a boost in the first period scoring 12 points to the Owls’ six.

One of the key factors in the game during the first half was the free-throw attempt margin. The Miners attacked the basket and attempted five free-throws to FAU’s zero.

The Miners also played stifling defense inside, blocking three FAU shots. Despite this, the Owls managed to score 20 points in the paint in the first period.

Senior center Justin Raffington led them in the first half with 14 points. For the game Raffington accumulated a double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds.

In the second half, FAU continued to shoot the ball poorly from 3-point range, going 3-for-11 in the second period. They also lost their rhythm inside the paint as UTEP scored 24 points in the paint in the second half.

“We needed more interior defense tonight and we didn’t get that,” said Curry about the Owls paint defense.

With two minutes left in the game, FAU trailed by one point 55-54 but, they were not able to win the game in the final minutes as they were outscored 8-2 in the waning minutes of the game.

“One of the things we’re trying to teach guys is understanding playing and playing well. There’s a fine line in-between when it comes to winning games,” said Curry about the plays toward the end of the game.

This is the Owls’ fourth straight loss and eighth loss in the conference. Up next for FAU is a home game against the University of Texas San Antonio on Feb. 7.