Men’s Basketball: Owls rout Western Kentucky in C-USA Tourney quarterfinal

FAU completed the three-game season sweep, taking down the Hilltoppers 75-51 in their matchup of the C-USA Championship Tournament.


Gasner Delvarin Jr.

University Press stock photo of sophomore guard Nicholas Boyd.

Zachary Watts, Staff Writer

The Conference USA Championship Tournament play began this afternoon in Frisco, Texas, for the FAU Owls who took down the Western Kentucky University Hilltoppers 75-51. After securing the regular season title and the #1 seed, the 24-point win marks the Owls’ third win this season over the Hilltoppers to start their postseason. 

“I thought our guys came out with great spirit and great energy,” said head coach Dusty May.

Even at the tip-off, the Ford Center was buzzing, partly because several FAU students and fans made the pilgrimage to Frisco. 

Sophomore center Vladislav Goldin started things for the Owls inside the paint with back-to-back slam dunks to open the scoring. Following Goldin’s two scores, the Owls jumped out to an early 14-5 lead 12 minutes into the game, at which point they never looked back. 

The defense was the focus of both teams’ efforts to open the first half, and it remained a low-scoring affair. The Owls’ pressure on the defensive end helped to keep the Hilltoppers at bay, holding them to 21.9% shooting from the floor and a bleak 15.4% from deep in the first half. 

Even when the ball wasn’t going in, in the first half,” added May. “Our guys adjusted and got to the rim, found some easy baskets, and got in the passing lanes on defense.”

To close out the half, redshirt freshman guard Nicholas Boyd beat the buzzer with a layup to give the Owls a 30-20 lead entering halftime. Goldin led in scoring with eight, as the Owls got all their points from inside the arc and outscored Western Kentucky 26-8 inside the paint. 

The Owls didn’t notch their first three-pointer until they opened the second half when Boyd connected from deep to extend the lead to 47-26, capping off a 17-6 scoring run by the Owls.

From this point on the Owls only continued extending their lead, running up the score to as big as a 25-point lead late in the second half. 

By the two-minute mark in regulation, FAU’s starters had been pulled from the game and they coasted to a 75-51 finish, booking them a trip to the semifinal round. 

Not all was bliss for the Owls throughout the win. The team finished the game shooting 19.2% from beyond the arc, far off from their season average of 37.3%. 

I think it shows our toughness and grit,” said Boyd of the win. “I don’t feel like we played particularly well, we didn’t shoot well and had too many turnovers, but we found a way to get it done.”

Despite the struggles from three-point land, the Owls’ trio of Boyd, Goldin, and sophomore guard Johnell Davis combined for 38 points to move them one step closer to possibly their first C-USA Tournament championship in program history. 

Davis earned himself player of the game honors after posting a final line of a team-high 14 points, five rebounds, and four assists. 

The Owls will now look to Friday night’s matchup against the Middle Tennessee State University Blue Raiders, a team that holds one of the Owl’s three losses this season. 

I’m proud of our guys for how they were able to rebound and play with such heart and toughness, despite being undersized at every position,” added May.

The Blue Raiders earned their spot in the semifinal round by squeezing out a 66-65 victory over the University of Charlotte shortly after the Owls’ victory. 

Their semifinal matchup against the Blue Raiders tipoff at 12:30 p.m. and will be broadcast by CBS Sports Network.

Zachary Watts is a staff writer for the University Press. For more information regarding this or other stories email [email protected] or tweet him at @ZachWatts1_