Jan. 3, 2004
BOCA RATON, FL -- For the first time in six years and the first time in the Sidney Green era, Florida Atlantic University has started 3-0 in the Atlantic Sun Conference. The Owls defeated visiting Mercer University, 90-72, Saturday night in Boca Raton. The win snaps Mercer's 13-game A-Sun regular season winning streak and improves FAU to 6-4 overall and 3-0 in the A-Sun. Mercer drops to 5-7 and 2-1 in the A-Sun. FAU outscored Mercer 30-12 over the final 9:57.
Both teams played a close first half with the largest lead being six points by FAU on two occasions. The first came at the 8:25 mark when an Earnest Crumbley three-pointer gave the Owls a 29-23 lead. Crumbley would finish with nine points. With 5:08 left in the half, Jeff Hamilton hit a pair of free throws to give FAU a 33-27 lead. Mercer would close the half on a 14-8 run to knot the game at 41-41.
Mercer would start the second half with an 8-2 run before FAU would come back with a 7-0 run of its own, capped off by a Crumbley three, to lead 50-49 lead at the 13:44 mark. With the score tied 60-60 with 9:57 remaining, the Owls took over the game outscoring the Bears 30-12 the rest of the way. The big run featured 14 points from Watson as well as eight of Mercer's 23 turnovers.
"I am pleased with the way that our bench played," said Green. "They came in and gave us a spark. It was a total team effort in the win. I was also happy with our half court defense and free throw shooting."
The Owls' bench scored 56 of the team's 90 points while FAU went 11-for-14 from the line. In addition to his 18 points, Watson dished out five assists and had three steals. Williams grabbed a game-high eight rebounds.
Mercer was led by Wesley Duke's 18 points. Delmar Wilson added 16 as the Bears played their third straight game without leading scorer Scott Emerson who is out with a foot injury. FAU last started A-Sun play 3-0 in the 1997-98 season. Its best start in the conference is 4-0 in 1996-97.
Florida Atlantic next faces Georgia State Monday night at FAU Gymnasium. Tip-off is set for 7:00pm.