Jan. 9, 2004
JACKSONVILLE, FL -- Mike Bell scored a game-high 25 points, and Earnest Crumbley dished out a career-high 11 assists to lead Florida Atlantic University over Jacksonville University, 87-67, Friday night in Jacksonville, FL. The win improved FAU to 7-5 on the year and 4-1 in the Atlantic Sun Conference. It also continued the dramatic turnaround of the Owls who have now matched last year's overall win total and surpassed their 2002-03 A-Sun victory total.
The Owls dominated JU (6-5, 1-3 A-Sun) most of the game and never trailed as they built an early six-point lead behind hot shooting from Bell. The junior had a dunk, a three-pointer, and a jumper in the game's first 5:53 to give FAU a 13-7 lead. A bucket by Crumbley at the 7:06 mark of the first half completed a 12-2 run that gave FAU a 25-12 lead.
FAU was not through, however, as it used an 8-0 run late in the first half to build a 21-point lead, its largest of the night, before settling for a 41-25 halftime advantage.
In the second half, the Owls maintained their double-digit lead, never leading by less than 11 points. Bell scored 17 of his points in the final 20 minutes while Jeff Hamilton added nine of his 13 points during the same span.
All in all, head coach Sidney Green called the Owls effort their most complete of the season.
"I am so proud of our team," he said. "It was a total team effort tonight. Our defense was great. We played the passing lanes and caused some turnovers. In addition, Earnest (Crumbley) did a terrific job directing our offense."
Jeff Cowans scored 14 points to move into third-place on the FAU all-time scoring list with 1,257. He's now 11 points ahead of Damon Arnette, who played from 1996-99.
Pierre Tucker grabbed a season-high 11 rebounds while Bell added eight. FAU shot 54 percent from the field and held JU to 39 percent. The Owls shot 63 percent in the second half.
FAU, which went just 3-13 in the A-Sun a year ago, is off to its best start since the 1997-98 season when it also started 4-1.
Florida Atlantic next faces Stetson University Sunday afternoon in DeLand, FL.
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