The Owls stormed back in the second half after being down big early, but late turnovers and unfortunate bounces on loose balls prevented FAU from scoring the game-tying points in the final seconds.
“We just didn’t make enough plays at the end to win the game,” FAU coach Dusty May said.
FAU (13-10, 4-6) would have jumped the Golden Eagles (14-9, 5-6) in the conference standings with a win. But, it tumbled down instead.
Xavian Stapleton went up in the lane for a turnaround jumper that would have tied the game with 16 seconds left, but the shot went awry, the Owls being forced to foul as a result. Southern Miss knocked down both free-throw attempts to make it 72-68.
Anthony Adger kept the comeback hopes alive, however, driving to the lane for a three-point play to bring FAU within one. Southern Miss was fouled on the other end, splitting its pair of free-throw attempts.
FAU then had three seconds to win the game.
Down two, Adger caught the inbounds pass and heaved up a half-court prayer, but the shot clanked off the side of the backboard.
“That I wish that we had another time-out,” May said. “You obviously don’t want to run that close to the ball – they weren’t really pressuring, we could have advanced it up the floor a little bit. Just something you have to continue to learn and grow from.”
The Owls were down by double digits after the first half but tightened up their defense to rally back in the second. A corner three-pointer from Adger brought the Owls ahead for the first time in the period, 56-55, with 6:38 remaining.
Adger kept FAU in it when the game looked lost early, ultimately scoring 19 points on 6-14 shooting and 4-9 from deep. He added a team-high five assists and three rebounds.
Stapleton’s late miss came on a night where he was otherwise spectacular, pouring in 18 points on an efficient 8-15 from the field.
GameBrowser: Southern Miss (14-9, 6-5) 74, FAU (13-10, 4-6) 72
Moving Forward: Big men Karlis Silins and Simeon Lepichev each knocked down a three-pointer. They came into the game having taken only six attempts from deep, making two …Providing a much-needed spark off the bench, Kevaughn Ellis scored eight points and pulled down three boards. He added a block on a Southern Miss layup attempt that erupted the home crowd.
Falling Backward: Richardson Maitre missed his second-straight game with a concussion. Cedric Jackson made his first start of the season in Maitre’s absence, missing five of six shots. …Southern Miss guard Tyree Griffin torched the Owls for 16 first-half points on 7-8 shooting. Listed at a generous 5-foot-10, Griffin used his compact frame and an array of lightning-quick dribble combinations to probe the FAU defense for easy layups.
Key Stat: 68 – Southern Miss’ field-goal percentage at the half, which doubled FAU’s 34 percent.
Up Next: FAU heads to the Lone Star state to take on UTEP next Thursday. Tip-off is slated for 9 p.m.