Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Lightning Can Strike Twice as Florida Atlantic Beats Hofstra Again
Last December on this very court, Florida Atlantic held off Hofstra 63-59 as Greg Gantt and Raymond Taylor combined for 31 points in the victory. The Owls also out-rebounded the Pride 30-21. Gantt, Taylor and five other Owls from last season returned for FAU in this contest.
The two teams played a very close first half. There were three ties and the largest lead by any team was five points (twice by Hofstra). There was a large disparity in free throws as the Owls were 5 of 8 from the line while the Pride were 11 of 14. Throw in Hofstra outscoring FAU 7-1 on second chance points and thus you had a Pride halftime lead at 32-27.
Even though the Lions' Den section was decimated by turkey day travel plans, they were very creative when it came to the Owls' diminutive guard Raymond Taylor, who is generously listed at 5 foot 6. The Lions' Den serenaded Taylor with chants of "Booster Seat", "Ooompa Loompa" and of course everyone's favorite "Gary Coleman". Due to Taylor's four fouls, his time with his new admirers was limited.
Hofstra also wasted no time at the start of the second half. Baskets by Steve Mejia, who had his best game all season for the Pride, and Moore put Hofstra up nine, 36-27. It looked like the Pride might be pulling away from the Owls.
But during a timeout, Mike Jarvis did a hockey line change and that seemed to awaken FAU. The Owls went on a 13-0 run capped by a Omari Grier three pointer, one of eight on the night for Florida Atlantic, and FAU was up 40-36. After Hofstra responded with four straight points to tie the game at 40 with 12:22 left, Mike Jarvis brought Gantt back in the game.
Gantt would score on FAU's next four possessions. The last one was a huge three pointer that put the Owls up two 58-56 with 1:24 left after Moore had hit three free throws to put Hofstra up one. But when Gantt responded, Moore responded back. Moore would hit another two free throws to tie the game at fifty eight with fifty eight seconds left. Hofstra called a thirty second timeout.
Well, FAU took only fourteen seconds as Alex Tucker hit a jumper to put the Owls back up two, 60-58. Hofstra quickly responded, as who else, Moore, hit two free throws to tie the game at sixty with twenty six seconds left. But this setup FAU for the last possession with the shot clock turned off. The Owls ran time off the clock. With the clock winding down, Tucker again took the shot, an off balance layup that somehow bounced into the basket. There were only 2.4 seconds left on the clock and Hofstra was down 62-60.
Coach Mo Cassara called timeout and setup a play. When Hofstra came out in their set, Jarvis immediately called timeout to change his defense. With all the fans standing up, Hofstra inbounded the ball. Mejia tossed the ball to Lester on the baseline, who threw a baseball pass down the court trying to hit Moore. However, both Moore and the FAU defender both went for the pass. The ball deflected off them and as time expired, Shemiye McLendon literally batted the ball into the basket.
Gantt was dominant in the last final twelve plus minutes, scoring fourteen of his twenty one points on the night. The only other Owl in double figures was Pablo Bertone with eleven points. FAU shot eight of nineteen from beyond the arc and shot forty two percent on the night.
We said our goodbyes to Tieff, as well as Defiantly Dutch and his much better half, Michelle. As my older son and I made our trek back to our car in a cold downpour, it seemed appropriate for the evening. For the second year in a row, Gantt rained on Hofstra's parade, so why shouldn't Mother Nature rain on ours as well.
I hope she is more kind when I head up to Rhode Island on Friday for a weekend of hoops.
(This will also be posted on Mid Majority's 800 Games Played Project. I will link to that here when it is on the site.)