FAU finishes strong, uses big second half to defeat Charleston 90-74

By Robbie Lastella

FAU comes from behind with huge second half

The first half brought back memories of the stunning loss against Bryant, but the second half was a different story. The Owls used a strong second half to their advantage, getting strong contributions from Johnell Davis and Vlad Goldin- leading to a 90-74 victory. After the game Coach Dusty May gave his thoughts on how the fans played a role in tonight’s victory.

“Shoutout our fans… the energy, the juice even when we weren’t playing well… they brought it. And they energized and had a direct impact on this game,” Coach May said after the game. 

As usual the atmosphere at Eleanor R. Baldwin was electric. Vlad Goldin had 4 early points for the Owls, including a flush & both times the building erupted. 

It was a back and forth affair early on, as FAU was looking to build on their strong paint performance against Liberty in this one, starting out with their first 12 points all coming in the paint. Charleston was able to grab 3 offensive boards in the first 6 minutes and both teams were tied at 12 with 14:18 to play in the first half. 

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Brenen Lorient hit a 3 to go up 19-12 with a little over 12 minutes to play in the first half, the building erupted and momentum began to turn. 

College of Charleston was able to answer quickly as Jordan Crawford was fouled on a 3, hit the basket and converted at the line- cutting the lead to 19-16 with 11:40 to play in the half. The  cougars were helped by 50% shooting from deep early, and back to back triples from Cj Fulton and Reyne Smith led to a tie game- 22 all with just under 10 minutes to play in the 1st half.

Charleston was able to take their first lead of the half with just under 7 minutes to play, as 5 straight points from Frankie Policelli put the cougars up 29-24 with 6:11 to play in the first half. After the game Charleston coach Pat Kelsey gave his thoughts on his team’s strong first half performance. 

“I loved our guys’ mentality coming in here. The moment wasn’t too big for them, the venue wasn’t too big for them. They were the aggressors at the beginning, I believe and that makes you feel good about where the teams trending,” Coach Kelsey said. 

Giancarlo Rosado gave his best effort to keep the Owls in it, scoring 11 points early, but missing some crucial free throws. The Cougars strong play continued throughout the remainder of the half, hitting their final 3 shots and closing out the 1st half with a 46-40 lead. After the game Coach May talked about the performance of Rosado and how he kept them in the game early.

“If I was a school teacher I would give our center position an A+ on the offensive side of the ball. G was phenomenal in the first half, he was the reason we were in the game. They (Charleston) have an all league and that guy made some plays but I thought G was able to neutralize him,” Coach May said. 

Charleston started out strong in the second half, extending their lead to 8 early on a triple from Reyne Smith, but the Owls were ready to fight. Alijah Martin scored 5 straight and cut the lead to 3 with 15:48 to play in the game. 

Momentum began to shift with 13:24 to play as Johnell Davis hit a fast break layup and converted, putting FAU in the lead for the first time since the 1st half- 56-55. It was the “Nelly” show in the second half as during one stretch he scored 6 out of 9 points for the Owls and had FAU leading 65-57 with 9:17 to play. After the game Coach May talked about the strong performance from Johnell Davis. 

“I thought he got out in transition and they crash the glass so they’re susceptible to the pitch aheads and attack. I thought Nelly did a great job of separating his teammates and this was the fastest he’s looked in a long long time. His first step was dynamic and set everything else up, it got those guys in foul trouble and got his teammates open shots more importantly it started one of our spurts and to be honest, he started it, continued it, and finished it,” Coach May said. 

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The Owls never looked back from that point on, leading by as much as 15 points. FAU was helped by 15 second half points from Johnell Davis and the Cougars were unable to match, going scoreless for over 5 minutes during a late stretch of play in the second half. After the game Johnell Davis gave his thoughts on how he was able to be successful tonight. 

“Just staying on it. Trusting my work and my teammates trusting me,” Davis said. 

Never phased, the Owls played as a team the entire game and never counted themselves out, winning by a final score of 90-74.

FAU will play again on Tuesday in the historic Jimmy V. Classic at Madison Square Garden against Illinois, Owls fans can watch that on ESPN. 

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