By Robbie Lastella
Jimmy V Classic: Illinois 98 – FAU 89
Manhattan, NY- FAU returned to the garden for the first time since the Elite 8 and had their trip spoiled- losing 98-89 to a fighting Illini team led by two 33 point performances from Marcus Domask and Terrance Shannon Jr. After the game FAU coach Dusty May talked about the success of those two.
“Obviously (Terrance Shannon Jr.) is one of the most dynamic wings in the country and when we didn’t get our defense set and he had any seams or gaps in transition, he did a great job of attacking and getting downhill and was able to convert. Domask was great. He took advantage of some of the things we typically are ok giving up and he and he continued to punish us,” Coach May said.
The first game of this year’s rendition of the Jimmy V classic started out in a bit of an offensive lull. FAU was shooting just 25%, while Illinois was shooting 33% in the first 6 minutes of play. This led to a back and forth affair early on, where either side was unable to pull away.
FAU went up by 6, 21-16 with just under 10 minutes to play on a trey ball from Bryan Greenlee, this got the fans going and revealed an FAU majority crowd here early.
The Illini didn’t let that phase them, battling back and jumping out to a 4 point lead of their own on an and 1 basket from Terrance Shannon Jr. Both teams were battling hard and it resulted in a competitive back & forth first half.
The two teams continued in a hard fought battle over the final 5 minutes of the first half, but the Owls gained a bit of a spark from Tre Carroll.
Carroll in only 4 minutes of play for the Owls brought the energy and the offense. Carroll dropped 8 points in the first half, including two timely top of the key triples. His triple with 2:15 to play extended the Owls lead to 5 once again. Coach Dusty May has praised Carroll for his efficient performances before, and after the game he gave more thoughts on Carroll.
“Offensively he gave us a jolt in the first half, made some shots, got the big guy away from the rim, did a nice job. We’ve got to figure out ways to defend better when he’s on the floor as a unit, but he’s a young guy that doesn’t have a lot of experience,” Coach May said.
The second half started with a run for FAU as some quick offense from Johnell Davis and Vlad Goldin extended the Owls lead 2 minutes into the second half. The Illini were quick to answer- Marcus Domask scored 7 out of 9 and Terrance Shannon Jr. added a few timely buckets and less than 3 minutes later they led by 7, 56-49 with just under 15 to play in the second half.
That run came on the heels of Vlad Goldin committing his 3rd foul and with Coach May trying to preserve his leading scorer he opted to take him out. After the game, Coach May talked about how Vlad being in foul trouble is detrimental to the team’s success.
“We’re at a positional size disadvantage at every position but one when he’s in the game, and when he’s not in the game we’re at a positional size disadvantage at all five positions,” Coach May said
FAU scored 8 straight themselves in a little over a minute, getting buckets from 3 different players and retook the lead. Domask and Shannon Jr. continued to give FAU troubles however, as the two went to work and jolted the Illini back to a 7 point lead with a little over 12 minutes to play.
This lead held and expanded for the Illini as FAU continued to struggle to contain Domask and Shannon. Both continued to get in deep, getting high quality shots and converting. The Illini took their largest lead of the game on a bucket from Domask, leading 76-65 with under 9 to play. After the game Marcus Domask talked about how he was able to attack the paint successfully.
“I knew going in that was a smaller team, so we probably could have our way inside. Just trying to play within the offense, be aggressive, make plays for the team and win games,” Domask said.
FAU attempted to battle back once again, cutting it to 5 with 7:20 to play but Illinois extended it back to 10 in under a minute. The Owls were able to cut it to 2 with 3:05 to play, but 5 straight points from Coleman Hawkins was the ultimate dagger in this one- as FAU was unable to cut it to a single score the rest of the way. After the game Coach Brad Underwood gave his thoughts on his teams never give up mentality, during a second half which was a battle of runs.
“I put a quote on the board before every game “know the thrill of an all out effort” and we want you to be tired after a game. We want you to leave everything on the court. There were a lot of runs. I think we had a 14-0 run. It’s a 40 minute game, it’s not anything short of that. You have to stay in tune with what you’re doing, you have to make defensive stops. We held up and got a couple stops down the stretch and that was important,” Coach Underwood said.
His team never gave up, constantly battling back and retaking momentum away from an Owls squad who was desperate to take it in their own direction. That was aided by 2 great Illini performances and after the game Terrance Shannon Jr. talked about how those performances came to fruition.
“It just happened. Just playing basketball and playing within the flow of the game, just making plays and everybody on the team works hard, and it just showed tonight for Marcus. He’s unstoppable and I’m always on him about being aggressive and he did tonight and I was really proud of him, he can do that every night but it was a little step forward for him showing everyone he’s one of the best players in the country,” Shannon said.
A tough loss for FAU, but Vlad Goldin is not phased and is ready to get back to work- speaking on it after the game.
“We lost a tough game and it’s something that we have to learn from…because we lost and from losses you learn a lot more than wins. As coach said, they exposed some of our weaknesses and we just have to work on that,” Goldin said.
FAU will have some time off, before they look to bounce back, at home against Fiu on December 13th. As for the Fighting Illini, they are in the midst of a brutal non conference schedule and are passing with flying colors- next they will matchup with #17 tennessee on December 9th.