Men’s basketball: FAU begins conference play with a home loss to Western Kentucky

The Owls were outscored 36-23 in the second half after being down just two points at halftime.


Redshirt senior guard Adonis Filer led the Owls with 16 points in their loss to Western Kentucky. Mohammed F. Emran | Staff Photographer

Hans Belot Jr., Sports Editor

Western Kentucky University used a strong defensive second half to defeat Florida Atlantic men’s basketball 69-54 in Boca Raton on Saturday, as the Owls start conference play 0-1 for the sixth consecutive season.

The Hilltoppers (7-7, 1-0 Conference USA) held the Owls (4-8, 0-1 Conference USA) to just 21.4 percent shooting in the second half, outscoring the Owls 36-23. FAU also shot 13 percent from deep for the game, making 2-of-15 shots behind the three-point line.

“They were playing the game at the pace they wanted,” said head coach Michael Curry on the second-half shooting struggles. “We tried to make some plays to create some things, but they are very disciplined.”

Redshirt sophomore Adonis Filer led the Owls with 16 points on 4-of-12 shooting, also adding a team-high four assists.

A back-and-forth first half affair saw Western Kentucky take a two-point lead into the locker room, 33-31. The lead changed 13 times in the first half alone and the biggest advantage was four points in favor of the Hilltoppers.

Shooting just 41 percent from the field, the Hilltoppers grabbed 11 offensive rebounds and scored nine second-chance points in the half. However, Western Kentucky also committed eight turnovers.

Despite Western Kentucky’s struggles, the Owls were unable to take advantage, scoring just four points off the Hilltoppers turnovers. FAU also shot just 43 percent from the field, including going 0-4 from beyond the arc in the game’s first 20 minutes.

“The reason we didn’t have a lead in the first half is because we didn’t do a good job on the boards,” said Curry. “You got to clean up the boards. Some of those rebounds is on those bigs, and some of our guards. You can’t win when your leading rebounder is Nick [Rutherford] with eight rebounds total.”

Western Kentucky began the second half firing, scoring seven quick points and holding the Owls scoreless in the first three minutes to take a nine-point lead, its largest lead of the night at the time.

However, the Owls answered with a 10-0 run of their own to retake the lead 41-40 with 13:35 remaining in the game.

In spite of the Owls’ run, the Hilltoppers outscored FAU 18-6 over the next six minutes to take their first double digit lead of the game 58-47, and never looked back.

The Hilltoppers were balanced offensively with four players scoring in double digits. Senior Que Johnson and sophomore Jabari McGhee led the team with 13 points a piece.

“We got to come back tomorrow and get ready to work, get ready for a whole different game,” said Curry.

The Owls will host Marshall on Monday, Jan. 2, at 7 p.m.

Hans Belot Jr. is the sports editor of the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him at @Don_Phenom_.