Owls earn first conference victory, fall hard to FGCU

Owls earn first conference victory, fall hard to FGCU

The men’s basketball team played a pair of home games last week, cruising past the Stetson Hatters 95-81 for its first conference victory but fell to the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles 66-49.

James Scott and Nick Masterson combined for 60 points to lead the Owls past the Hatters at the Convocation Center on Thursday, Jan. 18. The two leading scorers for the Owls played the full 40 minutes of the game. Four players from the Owls combined for 84 of the team’s points.

Both Scott and Masterson made more than half of their shots, and they each had a sharp touch from three-point range. Combining for 11 baskets from beyond the arc, the sharpshooting pair controlled the tempo from the beginning.

As a whole, the Owls offense converted 58 percent of their shots, and the defense held the Hatters to 42 percent.

Anthony Wilson came off the bench to calm the defensive nerves of the Owls and helped them break away after a tightly-contested opening to the game.

Contributing to the game with three blocks and steals each, Wilson assured that the Owls had a way to retain possession. Wilson also had 12 points in the game along with Jordan Jones, who led all players in rebounds with nine.

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James Scott takes a three-point shot against FGCU on Saturday. Scott had seven points. Photo credit: Chris Brown

The Owls, who have had trouble winning in the conference, pulled together and focused heavily on ball movement and finding opportunities. The consistency in their looks led to numerous openings and easy shots early in the game, leading to victory.

Head coach Al Skinner was pleased to see his team come together and make a statement of redemption in its first conference win of the season.

“We needed to be a little more patient with the basketball and really try to hit the gaps,” Skinner said. “I can only think of a couple times over the course of the game that we did not get a good shot when we showed patience.”

Saturday’s game against FGCU resulted in a drastically different performance from that of Thursday’s game. The offensive was held to 32 percent from the field by the Eagles.

Early in the game, the Owls were solid on both sides of the ball and kept up for most of the first half, but a 13-2 run by the Eagles established their momentum going into halftime.

An even distribution of game time led to several players scoring in the first half for the Owls with Isaac Mbuyamba leading the way with seven points and three rebounds.

A consistent second half by the Eagles saw nearly the same points scored by each team in the first half, and the Owls could not recover. That consistency was shown by the duo of Brandon Goodwin and Zach Johnson, who led the scoring for the Eagles and had similar statistics for the game.

Though the Owls were stifled by FGCU, who are undefeated in the ASUN Conference, they look forward to Wednesday, Jan. 24, as they take on the New Jersey Institute of Technology at 7 p.m. in the Convocation Center.

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