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


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


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


Men’s Basketball: Owls earn a heartbreaking 68-72 loss to FGCU

Coming off a historic win against No. 4 University of Arizona, FAU makes history again by being the highest ranked team FGCU has beaten in program history.
FAU Athletics
FAU junior center Vlad Goldin (#50) going for a dunk over Illinois senior forward Coleman Hawkins (#33) and another Illinois player during the Owls’ 98-89 loss to the Fighting Illini in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2023.

On Saturday, the No.7 Florida Atlantic Owls (10-3) suffered a heartbreaking 72-68 road loss to the  Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) Eagles (6-9). After making history by beating No. 4 University of Arizona, the highest ranked win in school history, the Owls allowed FGCU to make history and earn their highest ranked win in school history.

“Hats off to Florida Gulf Coast [University], they played extremely well. Stepped up, made timely plays. Other than our rebounding advantage, they probably outplayed us in every facet of the game,” said head coach Dusty May. “As a group, we haven’t handled success as well as we need to going forward…What we’ve learned is that our highs are very high and our lows are relatively low.”

Despite winning the rebound battle 42-30, the Owls could not overcome a poor shooting night along with 11 total turnovers. The Owls shot a combined 4-20 from three and 16-27 on free throws.

“We haven’t shot free throws nearly well enough to be championship caliber yet. We didn’t shoot the ball well from three. We didn’t take care of the ball as well as we normally do… Other than the rebounding advantage, I don’t think we played well,” said May. “We’re not going to win a lot of games on the road if we shoot four-for-20 from three and as poorly as we did from the line.”

Starters for the Owls, junior guard Alijah Martin (3-14) and senior forward Brandon Weatherspoon (0-5), shot a combined 3-19 from the field. Neither were available for post-game media. 

The game started with the Owls winning the tip and junior center Vlad Goldin getting his shot blocked out of bounds by Eagles junior forward Zach Anderson. This was an early sign of what was to come for FAU, as FGCU had a total of four blocks in the game, and had a tough time getting good looks in the paint. 

The game went back and forth for about the first four minutes of the game, until Goldin made two free throws to give the Owls a 10-8 lead with 16:08 in the first half. This was the only time in the game that the Owls had a lead.

After almost two straight scoreless minutes for FGCU, Anderson hit his first of three three-pointers in the game to give FGCU the lead. 

Following a turnover by the Owls, the Eagles missed two three-pointers and rebounded both of them to finally hit on their third. Another empty possession by the Owls led to a pullup jumper for senior guard Cyrus Largie to give FGCU a 16-10 lead and 8-0 scoring run, forcing FAU to call a timeout with 12:56 on the clock. 

Coming out of the timeout, FAU got bailed out by senior forward Keeshawn Kellman, who fouled redshirt sophomore guard Nick Boyd, sending Boyd to the free throw line. He made both to stop the bleeding for the Owls. 

The Owls looked ready to make a run after cutting the lead to two, but a three-pointer by the Eagles and a turnover by Boyd taken for a fast break layup brought the Eagles’ lead to seven, 18-25 with 9:35 left in the first half. 

The Owls couldn’t make large enough runs to tie the game in the first half. Anytime the Owls scored, the Eagles responded with three-pointers that made FAU’s efforts futile.

The lead exploded to as large as 13 for the Eagles with a minute left. FAU was able to score the last two baskets of the half to put a dent in their lead. The Owls fell behind 39-30 going into halftime. 

Despite a poor performance from the Owls, the story was the energy that the Eagles played with that allowed them to lead throughout the game. 

“We didn’t look nearly as quick as we normally do. We felt like we were getting beat a lot on the first bounce, but credit to [FGCU]. They were excited to play, they looked quick, they got to their spots and they jumped over us several times,” said May. “It reminded me a lot of both of our other losses where we just had an inability to guard the basketball, which led to us overreacting in some other areas.”

FAU only made one three in that first half, which was paired with seven turnovers and six missed free throws.

Although the Owls landed the first punch in the second half with a layup by Goldin, the Eagles responded with a three pointer to take back a double digit lead.

For the first ten minutes of the second half, junior guard Johnell Davis and Goldin were the only source of offense for the Owls. Every other player that took a shot for the Owls missed. Davis and Goldin finished as the leading scorers for FAU with 17 & 21 points respectively.  

Throughout those ten minutes, FAU was only able to cut the lead to as low as five, which came at the 11:39 mark, 45-50 FGCU.

Hope started to build for the Owls after an offensive rebound and putback by Martin off a missed Goldin free throw made the Eagles’ lead 55-53 with 9:10 left in the half. FAU chants started to fill Alico Arena.

The hope would thin out, as FGCU responded with a 7-0 scoring run to take back a commanding nine-point lead. 

However, this didn’t discourage the Owls, as there was plenty of time on the clock and fight left in the team. The Owls went on a 9-0 scoring run of their own at the start of the 7:17 mark to tie the game 62-62 with 4:46 left in the half. 

Anderson ended the Eagles scoring drought with a demoralizing three to take back the lead. For the rest of the time, the Owls and the Eagles were trading shots left and right. After Goldin got fouled by Kellman, he made both clutch free throws to tie the game back up with 1:27 left remaining, 68-68. Head coach Pat Chambers and FGCU called for a timeout soon after.

On the following possession, Weatherspoon and senior guard Jalen Gaffney miscommunicated on a switch that left junior guard Dallion Johnson wide open for the dagger three-point shot. FGCU leads 71-68 with 1:12 left. 

FAU took the ball up the court, and Davis attempted a side-step three for a chance to tie the game, but he missed. Goldin rebounded the ball and kicked out to Martin who attempted a three, but missed. Weatherspoon came down with the rebound and kicked it back to Davis who attempted another three, but missed. 

FGCU finally came down with the rebound and the Owls were forced to foul after 54 seconds were used on the last offensive possession, ending the game. 

The Eagles fans stormed the court in celebration of their upset victory over the Owls, something that May expects to see again if the Owls continue to drop these types of games.

“We’re going to have the court storms if we’re not careful. We’re going to have everyone’s best emotional shot coming at us every single game, so we have to learn from this,” said May. 

FAU will have to learn their lesson quickly as they start conference play by hosting the East Carolina University (ECU) Pirates (7-6) at Eleanor R. Baldwin Arena on Tuesday, Jan. 2 at 7 p.m. The game will stream on ESPN 2. 

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. 

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor
JD Delcastillo
JD Delcastillo, Managing Editor
JD is a senior 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.

Comments (0)

Do you have something to say? Submit your comments below
All UNIVERSITY PRESS Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *