Published On: Thu, Mar 23rd, 2023

Sweet Sixteen Bound! Florida Atlantic Tops FDU in Second Round of NCAA Tournament

The no-quit, history-making, legendary Florida Atlantic Owls are moving on to the Sweet Sixteen.

The East Region’s No. 9 seed, the Florida Atlantic University men’s basketball team, took down the No. 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson Knights in a slugfest by a 78-70 final score to advance to the NCAA Regionals. The Owls will play the No. 4 seed Tennessee in basketball’s most famous arena, Madison Square Garden. The Eastern Regional semifinals will take place on March 23.

The Owls – who are making only their second NCAA Tournament appearance in school history – continue their incredible ride in the 2022-23 season, now standing at 33-3. The first-round win over Memphis was the Owls’ first NCAA Tournament win in school history. Two days later, Florida Atlantic advances to the Sweet Sixteen in the mecca of basketball.

Johnell Davis had a game for the history books, tallying 29 points on 10-15 shooting, a career-high 12 rebounds, five assists and five steals. Davis becomes the first player in NCAA Tournament history to rack up 25+ points, 10+ rebounds, 5+ assists, and 5+ steals since steals became an official stat in 1986.

The Owls and Knights went toe-to-toe throughout Sunday’s ballgame, in a classic March Madness contest.

It was a gritty first-half battle, with neither team shooting over 35% in the first half, but the Owls maintained a lead all throughout.

Thanks to two triples by Brandon Weatherspoon, the Owls went a 10-0 run to take an 11-point lead with 6:19 to go in the first half. FDU slightly closed the gap, but the sweet sixteen-bound Owls held a 32-25 first half lead.

The Knights came charging back early in the second frame, having a lead for almost seven minutes.

“Hats off to FDU,” head coach Dusty May said. “They were incredibly hard to prepare for and were such a tough matchup. Their scrappiness and physicality were exceptional. We just made enough plays to win. We settled in against their press and just had enough in us.”

Florida Atlantic is never truly out of it, however, and continued to fight to avoid letting the game get out of hand.

A clutch three-pointer by NCAA tournament hero Nick Boyd tied the game at 54 apiece, and in typical Davis form, a steal and fast break layup put the team ahead with eight minutes to play, a lead they never relinquished.

The 2022-23 college basketball season began with very few on the national stage having FAU on their radar. Now, the Florida Atlantic Owls, winners of 33 games, are one of the last 16 teams standing in the entire NCAA.

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