Men’s Basketball: Owls unable to overcome tough shooting display in loss to FIU

FAU was unable to complete a comeback after trailing by as many as 14 points in the second half

Sophomore+center+Ronald+Delph+is+defended+by+Florida+International+center+Adrian+Diaz+during+the+Owls%27+71-63+loss+to+FIU+on+Saturday.+Mohammed+F+Emran+%7C+Staff+Phorographer

Sophomore center Ronald Delph is defended by Florida International center Adrian Diaz during the Owls' 71-63 loss to FIU on Saturday. Mohammed F Emran | Staff Phorographer

Hans Belot Jr., Contributing Writer

Florida Atlantic men’s basketball wasn’t able to overcome a tough shooting outing as the team lost to Florida International for the second time this season, 71-63.

The Owls (7-22, 5-11 Conference USA) shot just 35 percent from the field, including 8-of-22 from the three-point line.

“I don’t think we were aggressive early on off the dribble,” said head coach Michael Curry. “We were indecisive and we were in a hole [early on].”

Though the Owls struggled offensively, Curry did like the way his defense performed as it held FIU (13-16, 7-10 Conference USA) to 42 percent shooting from the field, including holding the Golden Panthers to 2-of-10 from the three-point line.

“Despite our offensive mistakes, we held them to 42 percent from the field and two 3-pointers and that was good,” said Curry.

Nick Rutherford led the Owls in scoring with 16 points and was also able to come away with five steals. The totals matched career-highs for him.

Both teams started the game slowly on the offensive end, combining for just 2-of-11 shooting from the field in the first five minutes of game time. They also combined to score four points during that time span.

The rest of the first half would not get much better for either team, but FIU capitalized on a 13-3 scoring run that started with seven minutes left to take a 28-20 lead into halftime.

FAU shot just just 7-for-26 — 26.9 percent — in the half, including 3-of-10 from the three-point line. The Owls also turned the ball over seven times in the first half.
FIU did not shoot the ball much better during that time, shooting 13-34 — 38 percent — and making two out of the seven 3-pointers they attempted.

The Owls got as close as six points before going on a scoring drought of over four minutes in the second half. FIU would take advantage of the drought by going on a 12-0 run to to extend its lead to 15.

With just over six minutes left in the game, a four-point play by senior guard Jackson Trapp started a comeback attempt. Shots by freshman forward Connor Shorten and a 3-pointer by redshirt junior guard Adonis Filer got the Owls to as close as eight in the final minutes, but two free throws by the Golden Panthers were able to put the game away.

Senior forward Daviyon Draper led the Golden Panthers in scoring with 21 points and 13 rebounds. Senior center Adrian Diaz also finished with a double-double, recording 17 points and 10 rebounds to go along with three blocks.

“We knew the ball was going to go to them and a couple of the shots they made were shots they should never have gotten,” Curry said.

After scoring 14 fast-break points in the first half, the Owls scored two fast-break points in the second. FAU had four fast-break field goals in the first half and made three field goals in the half-court, standard offense out of 23 field goals attempted.

The Owls have now lost four straight games and six of their last seven.

The win marks the Golden Panthers’ second in their last nine games.

Next week FAU will host Middle Tennessee on Thursday, March 3, and University of Alabama at Birmingham on March 5 for its season finale.

Hans Belot Jr. is a contributing writer with the University Press. To contact him regarding this or other stories, he can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter.