FAU’s hopes of a Conference USA title died as quickly as they began, when the Owls’ 2016-17 season ended on Wednesday night with an 89-74 loss to Marshall.
Many of the problems that plagued the Owls in their Jan. 2 loss to Marshall, including an inability to stop the Thundering Herd early, returned in full force in their C-USA tournament opener.
While No. 11-seeded FAU kept things close in the first few minutes, No. 6 Marshall launched a 42-20 run in the final 14:14 of the first half. Though the Owls outscored the Thundering Herd 45-37 in the second half, the first half woes were too much for FAU to overcome.
Stevie Browning had 18 of his game-high 22 points in that first half for the Thundering Herd, with Austin Loop adding eight in the stanza.
FAU made only seven of its18 three-point attempts, though five of those were made in the second half. The offensive capabilities that the Owls needed to fight fire with fire in the first half were non-existent, with the team’s main scorers – Ronald Delph, Adonis Filer, Justin Massey, Nick Rutherford, and Gerdarius Troutman – combining to go 4-for-18 in the first half.
FAU wasted strong showings from Massey and Jailyn Ingram, who combined for 32 points on 20-of-34 shooting. Massey caught fire in the second half, with the fan favorite scoring 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting and 3-of-5 from behind the arc.
Ironically, FAU’s 2016-17 season ended exactly as it began, with the team coming out flat in a neutral site game. In their season opener on Nov. 11, the Owls lost to Texas State 61-57 during their trip to Hawaii.
GameBrowser: Marshall (18-14, 10-8) 89, FAU (10-20, 6-12) 74
Moving Forward: FAU held Ryan Taylor, who dominated the Owls with 32 points and 13 rebounds in January, to 11 points on 3-of-10 shooting and five boards…FAU only had 10 turnovers compared to Marshall’s 12….Nick Rutherford, who battled turnover issues all season, had only two in the loss….Jeantal Cylla had six points and five rebounds…Ronald Delph had six rebounds off the bench.
Moving Backward: In his final game with the Owls, Adonis Filer was 1-of-10 from the field… Gerdarius Troutman was especially quiet, only taking two shots from behind the arc and finishing 1-of-5…Five Marshall players got into double digits, with Terrence Thompson and Ajdin Penava nearly joining the party with eight points each…Frank Booker only took one shot in 16 minutes and had three total points.
Key Stat: 50: Marshall’s shooting percentage from the field in the first half. On the other side, FAU made only 37.5 percent of their shots in the first 20 minutes.
Up Next: Marshall will take on Old Dominion on Thursday night, while FAU will head back to Boca Raton and begin preparing for next season.