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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: FAU falls short of reclaimed glory. Owls lose 77-65 first to Northwestern in first round of NCAA Tournament

Owls lose to the Wildcats in overtime, ending their season aspirations to return to a Final Four.
Christian Proscia
A defeated FAU bench after their 77-65 overtime loss to Northwestern in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Florida Atlantic hasn’t lost back-to-back games since the 2021-2022 season when they lost to UAB in the semi-finals of the Conference-USA tournament and Northern Colorado in the College Basketball Invitational.

A bad two-game stretch to end the Owls season became an unprecedented run to the Final Four the following season. Despite losing to a heartbreaking buzzer-beater shot to San Diego State, Nick Boyd declared that FAU would be back in the same spot this time next season. 

356 days later, the No. 8 Florida Atlantic University Owls find themselves with a first-round exit in the NCAA tournament after losing 77-65 to the No. 9 Northwestern University Wildcats. 

“I’d like to express gratitude to this group for taking so many people on a great ride,” said FAU head coach Dusty May following the loss and end of his team’s season. “Credit Northwestern. They were statistically better in almost every facet of the game, and we just were not at our best.”

The first half wouldn’t reflect these comments from May. Both teams ended the first half with seven made shots apiece. Although a defensive slugfest, FAU had the edge in efficiency, shooting 33% from the field to Northwestern’s 21%. 

At the half, FAU’s Alijah Martin and Johnell Davis were the only players to make a shot for the Owls (combined 7-13). The rest of the team shot 0-8, with 7’1 center Vlad Goldin not attempting a single shot.

On top of poor shooting, FAU had double the amount of turnovers than Northwestern with 12. The Owls also had to deal with foul trouble from Alijah Martin and Bryan Greenlee, who racked up two fouls early in the first half, staggering their minutes.

Despite the poor performance in the first half, FAU led 20-19 against Northwestern.

Bryan Greenlee rising up for three against Northwestern. (Christian Proscia)

The key to the game became who would string together consistent scoring runs, as the first half was a culmination of fouls, turnovers and missed shots. 

Northwestern made its first three shots to open the second half, giving the Wildcats a four-point lead. 

The Wildcats were on a heater, and the Owls could not get organized offensively. Northwestern was 14-21 from the field in the second half with 7:10 left in the game, while FAU continued to rack up turnovers. At this point, Northwestern led 52-43 with all the momentum in their favor. 

The momentum shifted when Goldin was hit with an inadvertent elbow on a box-out from a Wildcat, resulting in a flagrant one foul call against Northwestern. Goldin laced both free throws and got fouled on the following possession to ace another pair. This 4-0 run tied the game up for the Owls for the first time since the first minute of the second half.

With less than two and a half minutes left in regulation, everybody in Barclays Center was left holding their breath for the rest of regulation. 

Both Johnell Davis and Northwestern guard Boo Buie were looking to take their team to the next round with a lead-taking shot, but neither could buy a basket. 

Davis was the first one to cash in with a tough floater down the lane, giving FAU a 58-56 lead with 64 seconds left in the game. FAU forced a turnover on the following possession and called a timeout to conjure up a perfect play to give them a more secure lead. 

Coming out of the timeout, Davis missed a jumper, but FAU came down with the rebound that was ruled out of bound. After refs reviewed the play, the call was changed to a jump ball, giving FAU the possession. Northwestern sent Goldin to the free-throw line for the one-of-one opportunity, and he missed. 

Northwestern went down the stretch of the floor with 26 seconds left, and regardless of the tenacious defense FAU attempted to play, Northwestern guard Brooks Barnhizer drove down the lane and scored the game-tying layup. 

With eight seconds left, Davis dribbled up the court as fast as he could and put up a prayer from three. The shot caught air, and FAU found themselves in an extra five minutes of play in a mere 26 seconds. 

“We still had it in us. We need to find a way,” May said about the message to his team going into overtime. “That was the extent of it. We needed to rally together and find a way to get some stops, knock down some shots, and generate some good possessions.”

Dusty May pictured after the loss to Northwestern. (Christian Proscia)

Unfortunately for the Owls and their season, that was the antithesis of what happened in the following five minutes. 

FAU won the jump ball, which resulted in a missed Weatherspoon three-pointer seven seconds into the shot clock. Barnhizer came down on the opposite end and nailed a 17-foot jump shot to give Northwestern the lead. 

Greenlee came down for FAU, looking to respond, and walked into a turnover with a travel. Northwestern took advantage of the extra possession, and guard Ryan Langborg made a 19-foot jump shot.

Northwestern smelt blood in the water, and in a matter of three and a half minutes, the Wildcats had an 11-point lead in overtime. FAU tried to stretch the game with a full-court press and intentional fouls, but there was not enough time, and it started to set in that the season was over. 

In overtime, the Wildcats shot a perfect 5-5 from the field, while FAU missed its first five shots.

Northwestern’s Langborg and Buie led their team in scoring with 27 and 22 points, respectively. The guard duo hit tough shot after tough shot without an assist down the stretch, something that May and the Owls look to force teams into. In this case, it didn’t work out for them. 

“I feel like our team meshed together at the right time in the game,” said Langborg about his and his team’s offensive success down the stretch. 

For FAU, Goldin finished with 19 points on 9-11 free throws and 5-6 shooting. Davis finished with 18 points on 6-16 shooting and a season-high nine turnovers. Martin had six points and went 0-6 from three. After allowing 19 points in the first half, FAU was outscored 58-45 the rest of the game. 

“Sometimes, you’ve just got to live with them making difficult shots and move onto the next play,” Greenlee said after the game. 

With the transfer portal open and rumors circulating about May’s availability for other head coaching positions in college basketball, the Owls await a long off-season. 

“One day at a time. We signed a very good high school class at FAU, and all of those decisions are for a later date…We’ll see what’s next. We’ll get everybody back and do our individual meetings and figure out what’s next,” May said. 

“Right now, I can’t speak for anyone in our locker room. We just poured our heart and soul into this team, into this run, and unfortunately for us, we didn’t get to where we wanted to get to, but life goes on.”

JD Delcastillo is the Sports Editor for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email him at [email protected] or DM on Instagram @jd.delcastillo or X (Twitter) @jd_delcastillo.

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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.

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