Men’s Basketball: Owls frustrated in 74-70 loss at Middle Tennessee

Despite leading by eight at one point, FAU earned their third loss of the season to Middle Tennessee on Thursday night.


Jaden Wiston

Guard Johnell Davis fights off two defenders for a rebound on Jan. 26, 2023.

Nicole Vogt, Staff Writer

The #25 FAU Owls (24-3, 14-2 C-USA) lost 74-70 on the road Thursday night to the Middle Tennessee State University Blue Raiders (MTSU) (16-11, 9-7 C-USA). 

The two teams last played back on Jan. 26, when the Owls defeated MTSU 85-67 on their home court. This time around, however, the Blue Raiders came away with the victory, handing FAU their third loss of the season.

We needed to be more physical and quicker to the ball,” said head coach Dusty May. “To get only one point at the free throw line while turning it over 15 times, it’s not a recipe for success on the road against a quality team like Middle Tennessee.”

After sophomore center Vladislav Goldin won the tip off for FAU, Middle Tennessee scored the first points of the game off a fast break layup. The Owls quickly jumped back out ahead to a 10-2 lead after sophomore guard Alijah Martin scored 8 points in the opening four minutes.

The game remained a closely contested affair through the first half, as Goldin threw down a dunk tying the score at 21 apiece with 8:16 until halftime.  

An 8-point scoring run by Middle Tennessee put them back in front, but FAU rallied back in the closing minutes of the first half to take a 32-31 lead going into halftime.

The Owls started the second half with a fast break layup from Goldin, bringing their lead to 34-31. Shortly thereafter, however, Middle Tennessee went on a 23-7 run which left them with the largest lead of the night at 15 points with just over 10 minutes to play.

FAU had been in this position before though; Less than a week ago, they trailed Louisiana Tech by as much as 10, before coming back for a 5-point victory.

In the fourth quarter, they found themselves in a similar plight, and it appeared they were on the brink of another comeback victory. With 2:46 in regulation, Martin drove past a defender for a layup, slimming the Blue Raiders’ once 15-point lead to just 5 points.

In the final minute of regulation, Martin came up big again with his third three-pointer of the game making it a three-point game. 

MTSU drew three trips to the line in the final 30 seconds of regulation as the Owls attempted to complete the comeback, which allowed them to push their lead back to 6.

Despite junior guard Jalen Gaffney sinking a three with 4 seconds left in regulation, the Owls’ late efforts proved insufficient as they ultimately fell by 4 when the final buzzer sounded.

With this bye weekend, we need to refocus and figure out how to get our edge back,” said May.

The Owls will be looking to recover from the loss against the University of Texas at San Antonio Roadrunners (8-19, 2-14 C-USA) on Thursday, Feb. 23. Tipoff from Eleanor R. Baldwin Arena is scheduled for 7 p.m. and will be broadcast by ESPN+.

Nicole Vogt is a staff writer at the University Press. For more information regarding this or other stories email her at [email protected], or tweet her @nicole_nikkiv.