The Huskies, who led by as many as 15 points, had a 10-point cushion after C.J. Wilcox made two free throws with 2:24 left in the game. UW could not hold off a stingy FAU team that cut the lead down to four with 1:21 remaining after forward Kore White drained a three-pointer from the left elbow. White tried another three-pointer on the Owls' next possession, but UW center Aziz N'diaye was able to corral the rebound and pass the ball to point guard Abdul Gaddy, who was immediately fouled.
Even though the Huskies finished the night 24-35 from the charity stripe, Gaddy made both his tallies to give Washington a 76-70 lead with 38.2 seconds left. White was again the focal point of FAU's offensive attack, and he was fouled on the right sideline by UW's Terrence Ross with 20.5 seconds remaining. The 6-foot-8 White made one of two free throws, and then Ross was fouled on the other end. He made the front end, missed the second, and the Owls came back one more time.
Another shot from deep, this time from Omari Greer, came off iron and there was a mad scramble for the ball - eventually pulled down and secured by Ross. The Huskies ran out the clock from there to secure a hard-fought victory, but one that was tougher than it needed to be for the home team.
"I can see why Florida Atlantic was picked to win their league, they're a really solid basketball team," Romar said after the game. "They did a good job. I didn't think that we mentally came out with the intensity that we needed and focus. At times I don't think we concentrated like we should have and Florida Atlantic made us pay for it."
"I'm sure they got a lot more than they expected," added FAU Head Coach Mike Jarvis. "We played hard. We played the way we should have played last night. And we should have won last night I thought by double figures. Tonight I thought we played a lot better. We executed much better. We made a lot of big shots."
Just like game one of the tournament, the Huskies seemed to be concentrating just fine, rolling out to another strong start. They lead the Owls 11-1 after five minutes of play. They steadily built their lead to as many as 14, the last on a Ross jumper from deep with 8:12 remaining. But FAU brought the lead back to five, helped by the play of their 5-foot-6 guard Raymond Taylor, and freshman Greer, who only played two minutes in the Owls' Saturday loss to Portland. Greer's five points were one short of Shavar Richardson, who had two made threes to lead FAU in scoring going into intermission down 11, 35-24.
"Let me tell you something," said Jarvis, who was hit with a technical foul at the 9:38 mark of the first half and his team down 18-8. "Only a dummy wouldn't know that if they didn't show up and play hard they were going to get killed. They're talented."
The second half was a different story, as FAU hustled to the ball, erased UW's sizable advantage in the paint, and caught fire offensively, scoring 47 points. "In the first half I thought we played a lot better than we did in the second half," said Romar. "In the first half I thought we defended pretty well, in the second half they exposed us in a lot of different ways. I don't like to learn, and say we'll learn from this. I prefer to win and learn from this. Hopefully this was one of those games where we won, but a lot of lessons to be learned from this one."
Wilcox' shooting from deep gave UW it's biggest lead - 15 after back-to-back three-pointers with 15:55 to go in the game - but they couldn't push away from an FAU team not willing to back down. N'Diaye added his first or what should be many double-doubles, with 13 points and 12 rebounds. The junior from Senegal also added three blocks and a steal, while Wilcox also had four steals to go with his points.
"On any given night any of us can be that one guy that everyone goes to," Wilcox said. "We all started out slow and I was lucky enough to knock down shots and get in the flow. But it can happen on any night with anyone."
Jarvis is hopeful the Owls get one more crack at Washington down the road.
"I told my guys: we're in a one bid conference," he said. "If we make it to the NCAA tournament, which is our goal, we're going to play a team like Washington."
Points: Wilcox 19, Gaddy 15, Ross 14, N'Diaye 13, Wroten 7, Breunig 5, Simmons 2, Gant 2
Rebounds: N'Diaye 12, Ross 5, Gant 5, Wilcox 4, Simmons 4, Breunig 3, Wroten 3, Gaddy 2, Stewart 1
Assists: Gaddy 6, Wroten 4, Ross 2, Gant 2
Steals: Wilcox 4, N'Diaye 1, Simmons 1
Blocks: N'Diaye 3, Wilcox 2, Ross 2
Huskies hold off FAU 77-71
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