Men’s Basketball: Dominant second half lifts Owls past Western Kentucky 76-62

The Owls seventh conference victory comes just hours after they emerged in the AP Top 25 for the first time in school history.

Cameron Priester, Sports Editor

Their historic winning streak moved to sixteen games, as the #24 FAU Owls (17-1, 7-0 C-USA) defeated the Western Kentucky University Hilltoppers (WKU) (11-7, 3-4 C-USA) Monday night at E.A. Diddle Arena in Bowling Green, Ky. 

We’re very pleased with our guys’ response in the second half,” said head coach Dusty May. “They tightened up defensively and made everything difficult for Western Kentucky. The rebounding advantage was probably as important as anything, which is a testament to our guys’ scrappiness and toughness.”

The 14-point victory marks the Owls’ first contest in program history as a ranked team after taking the 24th spot in the latest Associated Press Top 25 Poll released on Monday afternoon. 

Our players obviously acknowledged the ranking and are proud of it,” said May on debuting in the AP Poll. “When the lights come on and the clock is running, they just play basketball and do what they do, so that’s why all of the other stuff should not affect our performance night in and night out.”

After missing their first attempt from the field, the Owls quickly found their rhythm mounting an eight-point scoring run in the opening 2:36 to take an early lead. That was quickly bested, as the Hilltoppers proceeded to go on an 11-point run of their own to steal the lead. 

A three-point barrage by Hilltoppers’ sixth-year guard Luke Frampton, who shot 100% from deep in the first half, allowed WKU to hold onto the lead for a majority of the first half. 

That was until sophomore guard Nicholas Boyd made his third three-pointer of the first half, retaking the lead for FAU with 2:03 remaining till halftime. Sophomore forward Giancarlo Rosado drew a foul with three seconds remaining in the half, and made both free-throw attempts leaving the Owls with a 34-33 lead at halftime. 

Despite holding a one-point advantage, FAU was shooting just 33.3% from both the field and three-point range. Boyd’s trio of three-pointers left him as the Owls’ leading scorer at the half with nine points and a rebound. 

After the lead went back and forth to open the second half, WKU tied the score at 48 apiece as junior guard Jamarion Sharp threw down a slam dunk. From this point on, however, the Owls began to dominate. 

After the Hilltoppers tied the score with 15:04 in the second half, FAU mounted a 12-3 run to take their largest lead of the night at nine points. Sophomore guard Johnell Davis, who recorded his fifth consecutive 10+ point performance on Monday, gave the Owls their first double-digit lead as he made his second shot from behind the arc with 7:05 left in regulation. 

FAU continued to dominate in the closing minutes of the game, extending their lead to as much as 17 points as Boyd completed a three-point play with 4:02 left to play. The Owls held strong on defense to close out the game, limiting WKU to five points in the final 4:59 to seal their sixteenth consecutive victory. 

Boyd finished the night as the Owls’ leading scorer with 16 points, meanwhile Davis finished closely behind with 14. As a team, FAU was able to recover from a shaky first half, ending the night shooting 43.4% from the field and 39.3% from three-point range. 

The Owls will now continue their three-game road trip with a matchup against the University of Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners (11-7, 3-4 C-USA) on Thursday, Jan. 16. Tipoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN+.

Cameron Priester is the Sports Editor for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @PriesterCameron