Jan. 24, 2007
BOCA RATON, FL (January 24, 2007) -- When the game tightened, DeAndre Rice was there to bail the Florida Atlantic University men's basketball team out of a bad stretch once again.
Following a handful of late turnovers that caused a 10-point lead to whittle down to just one, Rice hit a big three and two even bigger free throws down the stretch against Louisiana-Lafayette as the Owls held onto the victory, 75-72, at FAU Arena.
"DeAndre is a kid that just flat out makes plays," Head Coach Rex Walters said. "He hit a big three and a pair of free throws when we needed them. He just finds a way to make plays."
The Owls sprinted out to a 9-2 lead as four different Owls got involved in the offense early. Brent Crews hit a jumper 18 seconds in, followed by a Monroe layup, a thee-pointer by Paul Graham and a jumper by Rice.
Louisiana-Lafayette would trim the lead down to one, 13-12, with 11:24 left in the first half after a three-point play by Derek Gray. The Owls would storm back and stretch the lead back to 11, 27-16, with 7:03. A three-point play by Crews and four points from Seydou Kone highlighted the 14-4 run.
Four different Owls scored at least five points in the first half, led by Monroe's 10. Rice added seven while Graham, who returned to the starting lineup after missing a game and a half with a lower back injury, poured in six as Florida Atlantic took a 38-28 halftime lead. ULL's David Dees led all scorers with 15 first-half points on the strength of a 7-for-7 first half at the free-throw line.
ULL had trimmed the lead to six, 45-39 with less than 16 minutes left in the second half. Avery Holley, seeing his first action of the game, hit a three following a Kone offensive rebound to regain the nine-point margin, 48-39.
FAU led by seven, 64-57, after a pair of Monroe free throws with just under seven minutes remaining. With the lead trimmed to five, 66-61, ULL's Ross Mouton made the first of a pair of free throws before missing the second. The Ragin' Cajuns grabbed the offensive rebound which led to an eventual layup by Dees, cutting the lead to two, 66-64, under the four-minute mark.
After a pair of free throws and a steal by Monroe, Rice hit a three to balloon the lead back up to seven, 71-64. Lafayette would answer with a long two to shave the lead back to five with two minutes left in regulation.
Dees would steal the ball and was fouled with 1:48 to go. He sank the first of two to make it a four point game. Another Dees steal and another split pair of free throws diced FAU's lead to three with 1:12 left.
An Owl turnover with 58 seconds left raised the tension in FAU Arena before Jeff Parmer came up with a steal of his own with 50 seconds left. A Graham jumper with 30 seconds left would extend the lead back to five, but Dees would not go away as he hit the continuation of a three-point play to once again bring the Cajuns within two with 26 seconds remaining.
A turnover on the inbounds play would lead to a foul, putting ULL's Elijah Millsap on the line with 20 seconds left. He missed the first, but hit the second to trim the lead to the slimmest of margins, 73-72.
With 12 seconds left, ULL put Rice on the line and the senior sank both free throws to push the margin back to three. A Dees triple at the horn was short, giving FAU the victory.
"I feel like the last two games on the road, we played not to lose down the stretch," Rice said. "Tonight we found a way to come up with the win."
The Owls (9-11, 5-5 SBC) improve to 6-2 at home this season and will take a few days off before facing UALR on Saturday at FAU Arena.