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Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Men’s Basketball: Owls bounce back over FIU 94-60

After a tough loss against Illinois in the Jimmy V Classic, FAU returned home to deliver a signature win against rival FIU. FAU shot 64% from the field and 50% from three to secure their seventh straight victory against the Panthers.
Jaden Wiston
FAU junior guard Johnell Davis (#1) drives at the baseline versus an FIU defender during the Owls’ 94-60 victory on Dec. 13, 2023.

After a disappointing loss against the University of Illinois in the Jimmy V Classic, No. 15 Florida Atlantic Owls (8-2) blew out Florida International University (FIU) Panthers (3-8) 94-60 to get back in the win column. This win gave FAU their seventh straight against the Panthers, dating back to Jan. 14, 2021. 

“We have a team that handles adversity really well. They bounce back, they’re resilient, they don’t get down, they’re about the work,” said head coach Dusty May. “We don’t ever want to pat ourselves on the back too much. We want to analyze why we won, what went well, what didn’t, what can we learn from it, but it’s usually on to the next thing.”

With an eight-day break from their last game, the Owls looked to bounce back with energy against a Panthers team currently last in the Conference USA standings. They would do just that, shooting 64% from the field and 50% from the three in a wire-to-wire win. 

Although the offense made shots, the Owls’ defense created a staggering margin of victory. FIU had eight total made shots in the first half, and FIU’s two leading scorers, sophomore guards Arturo Dean (averaging 14 ppg) and Dashon Gittens (averaging ten ppg), were held to four points each. 

The game would begin with FIU winning the tip. After a missed three by FIU, FAU junior center Vlad Goldin took the rebound and threw an outlet pass to senior forward Brandon Weatherspoon for a slam dunk, getting the crowd to their feet early in the game. 

Despite the Fall semester coming to a close and students going home for the year, seats in the student section and general admission were almost filled to capacity, which senior guard Bryan Greenlee was surprised to see.

“Even though it was getting close to winter break, there were still a lot of people here, and the energy was great,” Greenlee said. “I didn’t notice a difference, to be honest.” 

After FAU took a 5-2 lead at the 17:42 minute mark, the next two minutes was ugly basketball for both teams. FAU junior forward Giancarlo Rosado made a tough fadeaway jumper to end the scoring drought, making the lead 7-2 with 15:46 in the first half. 

Following back-and-forth scoring, FAU junior guard Alijah Martin looked to take the roof off the building with a vicious dunk after intercepting an FIU pass like a free safety. However, he was intentionally fouled before taking off and splitting his free throws.

FAU was struggling from the line early in the game, missing their first six attempts and going 11-23 on free throws for the game. FAU is shooting 72% on free throws as a team on the season, with Martin averaging a team-best of 80%. Missing free throws, especially when points are needed, have been an issue for FAU this season. 

“We’ve had a couple of games where we haven’t shot them well in the first half, and I would say it’s probably people talking about them too much and thinking about them too much,” said May. “We’re going to continue to shoot pressure-situation free throws, but I prefer our guys to step up and trust the work they put in and knock them down. No team shoots 100%. You’re going to miss some, and we can’t overthink it.”

After FAU took a 13-5 lead with 11:37 in the half left, FIU attempted a zone defense to force FAU’s offense to take a different approach. It wouldn’t matter, as the ball would find Rosado in the middle of the zone, and he’d knock down the mid-range jumper. 

FIU would go 4:22 without a basket, which only ended due to an extremely tough floater that Gittens would make over two defenders, cutting FAU’s lead to 11 with 9:10 left to go in the first half.

There were plenty of times in the game where FAU was forcing FIU to use the whole shot clock to get a good look, leading to a turnover, a shot-clock violation, or a bad shot that FAU would rebound and score within transition. 

At one point, Greenlee intercepted a pass coming from the baseline with one hand like a cornerback covering a wide receiver, taking the steal and covering for a breakaway layup.

FAU was in the driver’s seat from beginning to end, amassing a 25-point lead with 2:29 left in the half after Weatherspoon put back a missed shot.

Before the half would end, FIU graduate forward Dante Wilcox and Rosado would exchange some words that the refs didn’t like during a minor scuffle, leading to a double technical foul on both players. Regardless, FAU entered the half up 43-20.

It seemed that Weatherspoon would take this personally, opening up the second half with three straight three-pointers, forcing FIU to take a timeout less than two minutes into the second half. 

Since FAU’s loss against Bryant University, Weatherspoon had shot four for 21 from three after starting the first two games, making seven of eight. He’d start the second half missing his first two three-point attempts, but he seemingly got his confidence back after that. 

“Those three’s were big time,” said Greenlee. “He’s a great shooter. Everybody has slumps, so we knew it was just a matter of time before he would go on a nice stretch like this.” 

Those shots would make FAU’s lead 52-23, and the Owls would hold a lead of 27 or more for the rest of the game. 

The bench unit would sub in with about five minutes left, and even they would contribute to the game.

Junior forward, Isaiah Gaines threw down a lob dunk, and redshirt junior guard Alejandro Ralat pulled off a crafty fake spin to hit a layup and get the crowd to their feet. Redshirt freshman Leo Beath would join in on the action, hitting a layup low for his first college career points. 

“​​I thought the last four minutes were probably as rewarding as any. To see the group of guys that don’t get a lot of time in the games come in and play good basketball. Those guys looked good,” said May. 

With a great showing at home, FAU focuses on their game against St. Bonaventure University (7-2) at Reilly Center during the Basketball Hall of Fame Classic on Dec. 16 at 4 p.m. The game will stream on ESPNU. 

JD Delcastillo is a Staff Writer with the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email him at [email protected] or reach out on Instagram @jd.delcastillo. 

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JD Delcastillo
JD Delcastillo, Sports Editor
JD is a junior multimedia journalism major with a minor in sports studies and digital marketing. Since high school, he knew he wanted to pursue a career in the sports industry. He's published work in magazines, started his own sports newsletter, and currently interns with ESPN West Palm.

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