By Robbie Lastella
It was pure madness in paradise and not the good kind for Owls fans. The Bryant Bulldogs marched into Eleanor R. Baldwin Arena and defeated the Owls 61-52.
“Hats off to Bryant, they played determined, they played well, they made plays when they needed to make them. It’s a good basketball team that’s faced a lot of adversity and they really came together as a group today,” Coach Dusty May said after the game.
The Owls jumped out to an 11-2 lead thanks to some quick offense from Johnell Davis and the building was rocking early.
However, Bryant fought back thanks to 2 3’s from Sherif Gross-Bullock. From there it was both teams struggling to score, with each side shooting under 35% for the majority of the half.
FAU was able to stretch their lead to 7 after a 3 from Nick Boyd put the Owls up 22-15 with just over 7 minutes to play in the half. Bryant clawed back once again, tying it at 26, before an Alijah Martin triple gave the owls a 29-26 lead which the Owls took to half time.
The second half was where the lack of shooting really showed for the Owls. With their field goal percentage dipping below 30% at times during the half it was an uphill battle for FAU trying to stay in the game.
Bryant capitalized on this, extending their lead to 37-33 with 16 minutes to play and they never trailed again from that point on.
FAU fought hard in the final minutes, but Bryant was not faltering, extending their lead to double digits a few times, and sending Owls fans home in disgust.
“It was a night that felt like everything went wrong for us, and on those nights you need to come up with extra possessions,” Coach May said.
It was one of those nights indeed for the Owls where at times it just looked like the basket had a lid on it. The Owls finished shooting 26.2% from the field, 16.7% from three and the most surprisingly 65% from the free throw line.
Although the Owls struggled to score, Coach May credits that to a very strong defensive game plan from Bryant, one that Coach hopes to use as a learning experience.
“They played so many different defenses this early in the year, so we really didn’t know what they were gonna play, we thought we would see a lot of different defenses. Their 3-2 just got us a little bit stagnant where we felt like we were always kinda open,” May said.
From a player perspective, one may wonder if they’re feeling defeated. But Giancarlo Rosado, who continues to take on a leadership role with this team, said what he takes away from this game the most is becoming closer as a team.
“Becoming closer. We were already a close group and we’re not gonna let this game define us. We’re gonna take an off day tomorrow, come to practice the next day and prepare for Butler,” Rosado said.
Owls fans can watch FAU vs Butler Thursday, November 23rd on ESPN 2, tip-off at 2:30. Bryant is back at home Monday November 20th at 7 pm on ESPN+.