FAU bounces back, defeats Butler in ESPN Invitational 

By Robbie Lastella

FAU

FAU Olws 91 – Butler Bulldogs 86

FAU took the court for the first time since their upset loss at the hands of Bryant. The Owls wasted no time, defeating Butler 91-86 in a game where the offense looked revitalized. 

The first half was a battle. FAU fans started off uneasy, as the first possession of the game resulted in a turnover for the Owls. Butler cashed in with a 3 to start off the game with momentum.

FAU was able to rattle off a 6-0 run, capping it off with a layup from Brandon Weatherspoon and taking a 20-14 lead with 12:06 to go. 

FAU was going to need reinforcements today, without Giancarlo Rosado and Nick Boyd. In the first half that help was found from Tre Carroll, who’s great stretch of play & a few buckets put the Owls up 29-21 with just under 10 minutes to go. After the game Coach Dusty May talked about the strong play of Carroll.

“Tre Carroll came off the bench and was elite offensively,” Coach May said.

FAU was able to hold a multiple possession lead throughout the majority of the first half, with contributions from Carroll, Gaffney, and Goldin. However, Butler began to battle back with some team basketball of their own. 

Butler, with strong contributions from Jalen Thomas, Jahmyl Telfort, and Landon Moore fought back and tied the game with 1:27 to play in the half. 

A bucket from Jalen Gaffney and Vlad Goldin towards the end of the first half extended the Owls lead to 46-42, which held going into halftime. 

The second half was once again a back and forth affair, with both teams stealing the lead away from each other at various points in time. 

FAU started out hot on the offensive end, getting to the line with Vlad and Davis connecting from deep. The Owls stretched their lead to 9 early in the second half, but once again Butler fought back. 

The story in the 1st half was team basketball for Butler and it was the story again in the second half, with multiple players contributing to a comeback effort in the second half for Butler. The bulldogs took their first lead of the half 56-55 with 14:13 to go on a bucket from Andre Screen, but the Owls were quick to answer.

Alijah Martin, who has dealt with injuries this season, really stepped up tonight and following the Butler surge to take the lead he stepped up for the Owls. Martin hit consecutive triples to put the Owls up 61-56 with 13:29 to play in the second half. 

Butler was not going down easy, fighting with the Owls for a brief stretch before regaining the lead 67-63 with 10:35 to go on a deep triple from Dj Davis. 

Vlad went to work after that deficit, getting to the line multiple times over a 3 minute stretch and regaining the lead for the Owls 71-70 with 7:39 to play. 

Tre Carroll was huge in the first half for the Owls, and was ready to step up again when his number was called. Carroll converted an and-1 layup to put the owls up 77-71 with 6:19 to play. Coach May was really elated with the play of Carroll and suggested seeing him as a starter isn’t out of the realm of possibilities. 

The final 6 minutes were a battle on both sides, with FAU’s lead being cut to one a few times. The Owls relied on their battle tested group, including star Alijah Martin who dominated down the stretch.

Martin hit a turnaround jumper with just under 2 minutes to play and put the Owls up 88-80. After Butler battled back, cutting it to 4, the Owls trusted their man Martin. Martin delivered once again, this time with 24 seconds left to put the Owls up 90-84.

FAU won the final few possessions of the game and closed out Butler in the Quarterfinals of the ESPN Invitational. With the win FAU will advance and play #12 Texas A&M in a critical matchup Friday morning at 11 am est.

It will be a tough battle with Aggies, but Coach May is not phased and will have his team prepared. Nick Boyd and Giancarlo Rosado will remain questionable, but with continued strong efforts from Carroll and Gaffney, the Owls will have the depth to stay in this matchup.

Highlight Stats:

Vlad Goldin- 19 Points 11 Rebounds 1 block

Johnell Davis 15 Points 9 Rebounds 2 steals

Alijah Martin 13 points 2 rebounds 3 Steals

Jalen Gaffney 14 points 4 rebounds 3 Assists 

Tre Carroll 11 points 1 rebound 1 assist (9 MIN)

FAU

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