Men’s Basketball: Owls get crushing 87-79 loss against Middle Tennessee

Coming off of four straight wins, this is the Owls’ third consecutive loss.


Eston Parker III

UP stock photo of head coach Dusty May.

Gabriella Brito, Staff Writer

FAU men’s basketball (15-12, 8-6 C-USA) were back in action Saturday afternoon in the Burrow at Abessinio Court, where they lost 87-79 to the Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) Blue Raiders (19-7, 10-3 C-USA). MTSU leads the East Division of C-USA. The Owls had a chance to stay in competition for first place in the division with a win. 

Both teams kept the score close throughout the first half of the game, which made it difficult for either team to build any momentum. The first half saw five ties and six lead changes. At 5:43, the Owls had a slight lead of 28-25, but the Blue Raiders answered back and took charge again. 

Despite freshman guard Alijah Martin leading the Owls with 12 points and five rebounds in the first half, the Blue Raiders were 7-10 from three and had help from graduate guard Josh Jefferson’s 18 points. 

“We have to continue improving and we have a lot of young players that need to get better and that’s what our focus has to be on,” head coach Dusty May said. “I think our early foul trouble contributed to us being on our heels defensively…I think a lot went wrong tonight [and] we’re a much better basketball team than we showed.” 

With less than a minute left in the half, Middle Tennessee had a seven-point lead with two seconds on the clock, Freshman forward Giancarlo Rosado scored in the paint to bring the score to 36-40. 

The Blue Raiders held onto their dominant position going into the second half as FAU never got closer than five points. MTSU shot 65% from the field and secured 23 points off turnovers. 

“[MTSU] made tough plays, scored one-on-one in the post consistently, they shot several threes and knocked them down. I thought they played with great pace, great composure, and their shooters knocked their shots down,” May said. 

FAU had many opportunities, especially in the second half, to take over or tie the game but their endeavors were unsuccessful. 

“We’ve been exposed in some areas and now we have to find solutions. We have to get back to playing really good basketball like we were two weeks ago,” May said. “We were playing really good ball as a group and since [playing] Western Kentucky, we haven’t played very well. We just need to get back to playing good basketball and the results will take care of itself.”

Martin closed out the game with a final three-pointer for the Owls, leaving the Blue Raiders to have an eight-point victory. Jefferson was the top scorer for MTSU as he led the way with a game-high 26 points. 

As for FAU, Martin finished tying his career-high of 22 points and recorded a game-best 6 rebounds. Rosado tallied a career-best 15 points with three rebounds and assists each.

The Owls will begin their three-game road trip  on Thursday, Feb. 24, at 7 p.m in Norfolk, Va. as they face the Old Dominion University Monarchs. The match will be broadcast on ESPN+. 

Gabriella Brito is a staff writer for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet her @gaby1brito