BOCA RATON – Dismayed by the Owls’ sluggish play in their last three games – all losses – FAU coach Michael Curry elected to hold a more physical practice on Friday than he normally would the day before game.
FAU responded with one of its most energetic efforts of the season and earned its first Conference USA win of the season with a 73-64 victory over FIU.
“Normally the day before games we hadn’t been doing contact and we did yesterday,” Curry said. “I thought it kind of carried over.”
FAU led nearly the entire game, enjoying a double-digit cushion for much of the second half.
A 9-0 FIU run allowed the Panthers to cut FAU’s lead to 64-60 with 3:54 remaining, but the Owls limited the Panthers to only one field goal the remainder of the way.
The victory marked the first time during the three-year Curry era that FAU defeated FIU.
“(FIU) is a senior-laden team – four of their five starters are seniors,” Curry said. “For our young guys to get a chance to beat them, I think that was really good.”
Four FAU players scored in double figures, led by Nick Rutherford’s 14.
GameBrowser: FAU (5-9, 1-2 C-USA) 73, FIU (4-12, 0-3 C-USA)
Moving Forward: After struggling to make shots in recent games, FAU shot 47.2 percent for the game on Saturday. …Adonis Filer started and scored 13 points, including what might have been the two most important of the game – a drive to the hoop that halted FIU’s 9-0 run. …Justin Massey came off the bench to score 12 points.
Moving Backward: Starting forward Jeantal Cylla didn’t score or grab a rebound during his 15 minutes on the court. He missed three shots, all three pointers. …William Pfister once again fouled out, doing so in 12 minutes of play during which he scored one point and nabbed three rebounds. …FIU out-rebounded FAU 38-30.
Key Stat: 36:18 – amount of time FAU held a lead during the 40-minute game.
Up Next: FAU hits the road for the first time in C-USA play this season, heading to UTSA on Thursday. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m.