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Owls Thrash Southern Miss, Advance at C-USA Tourney

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*Shared from the FAU athletics website* https://fausports.com/news/2022/3/10/mens-basketball-owls-thrash-usm-advance-at-c-usa-tourney.aspx?utm_medium=sidearm-email&utm_source=fausports.com&utm_campaign=FAU+MBB%3a+Owls+Thrash+USM%2c+Advance+at+C-USA+Tourney&utm_content=944cf669-ea61-4108-97f6-1e6c2684458c

FRISCO, Texas (FAUSports.com) – The Florida Atlantic University men’s basketball team rode a red-hot second half to an 86-59 victory over Southern Miss in the second round of the 2022 Conference USA Championship tournament Wednesday night at The Star.

FAU (19-13) led 35-29 after a sluggish start to the contest. But there was nothing sluggish about the Owls’ output after halftime. FAU shot 66.7 percent from the field in the second half as the Owls pulled away for the 27-point victory.

FAU head coach Dusty May credited his team’s defensive effort with helping the offense come around.

“I thought we played much better team defense in the second half,” May said. “We didn’t leave each other on an island. We were a little bit stretched out in the first half. I thought in the second half, our gaps were tighter, we were more aggressive raking the ball out. Overall, I thought each individual played much better in the second half.”

FAU led 43-33 with 17 minutes remaining in the contest. An 18-1 Owl run over the next six minutes put the contest on ice midway through the second half. Vladislav Goldin tallied six points and a pair of dunks during the outburst, while Alijah Martin added a pair of 3-pointers during that span. By the time Southern Miss stemmed the bleeding a bit, FAU led 61-34 with 11 minutes remaining.

The Owls’ lead grew to as many as 29 late in the ballgame, before they cruised to the 27-point win. It was FAU’s largest margin of victory ever in a Conference USA Championship tournament game and matched the largest margin of victory in any conference tournament game.

FAU started slowly to open the contest. The Owls turned the ball over three times and were just 3-of-9 from the field over the first seven minutes of the contest. Southern Miss (7-26) was only able to parlay that into a five-point lead, 12-7. The FAU reserves created a bit of a spark to get the Owls going. Johnell Davis and Giancarlo Rosado both came off the bench to score the next eight points, grabbing a 15-12 edge. FAU never trailed again.

FAU’s bench created a major advantage in the contest, outscoring the Golden Eagles 38-15. FAU also had a 44-26 edge in points in the paint.

Bryan Greenlee scored 15 points, on 5-of-6 shooting from behind the 3-point arc, to lead five Owls in double digits. Greenlee also added a game-best six assists. Goldin added 12, while Rosado scored 11. Martin and Brandon Weatherspoon tacked on 10 apiece. Davis grabbed a game-high seven rebounds to go along with three assists. Every FAU student-athlete in uniform saw action in the contest, with 11 Owls getting their name in the scoring column. Walyn Napper led all scorers in the game, tallying 17 in the losing effort for Southern Miss.

FAU will face off with UAB tonight at 9:30 p.m. ET in the C-USA Championship quarterfinals. The Owls and Blazers faced off once earlier this season in Birmingham, Ala., dropping a 67-65 decision.

If FAU wins tonight, they will play the winner of the Mid Tennessee vs UTEP game on Friday at 2 pm ET.