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Owls Soar Past Trojans, 75-71

Jan. 27, 2007

BOCA RATON, FL -- DeAndre Rice scored 24 points, 15 in an offensive explosion during the second half, while Paul Graham added 18 as the Florida Atlantic University men's basketball team pulled out a 75-71 win over UALR at FAU Arena on Saturday.

In addition to Rice and Graham, Derrick Simmons gave the Owls 15 points on 7-for-10 shooting off the bench when the team needed him the most - with the Owls other three interior players in major foul trouble. Carlos Monroe was limited to six points, but only attempted five shots in 22 minutes as the Trojans keyed on him.

"That's why it's great to have a three-headed scoring attack," Head Coach Rex Walters said. "When one guy has an off-night or gets shut down, you have two more guys to step up."

The Owls were up 15-10, but with three of FAU's four post players in foul trouble early, they needed the bench to rise to the occasion. Simmons did just that, hitting two big shots inside to extend FAU's lead to nine, 19-10.

"You always expect at least one player to bring great energy each night and Derrick did that tonight off the bench for us," Walters said.

FAU was forced to go with a four-guard offense and Simmons at the center position for a majority of the final 12 minutes in the first half due to eight fouls being called on FAU's four big men before the 10 minute mark. Despite the fact that the Owls were at a significant height disadvantage, they still held a rebounding advantage, 15-11, with 6:40 left in the first half.

With 5:32 left in the half, Simmons came up with a huge swat on a layup attempt by Lekheythan Malone to preserve a seven-point margin, 20-13. Trojan guard Steven Moore would hit two free throws later in the possession to trim the lead to five.



Sean Alarcon would hit a three from the elbow to push the lead to 23-15 with 4:20 to go in the half.

A 6-0 spurt capped by two inside baskets by Jones-Jennings cut FAU's lead to four, 29-25 as halftime approached, but Rice hit a huge three with 10 seconds on the clock to push the lead back to seven for the halftime margin.

Rice, Simmons and Graham each had nine points in the first half for FAU, while Jones-Jennings had nine for UALR.

The Trojans fought back in the final few minutes to edge the Owls on the boards, 18-17. UALR shot 29.6 percent from the field, while the Owls hit 43.5 percent of their attempts.

Monroe, Jeff Parmer and Seydou Kone played just 17 minutes combined due to foul trouble in the first 20 minutes. Monroe led the Owls in rebounding with four despite seeing limited action (eight minutes) while Jones-Jennings, the nation's leading rebounder at 12.1 per game, grabbed a remarkable 11 rebounds by halftime.

UALR had trimmed the lead to five, 38-33 with 15 minutes remaining in regulation. A layup by Rashad Moss cut the lead down to three seconds later, the smallest margin since the Owls had a 10-7 lead with 12:52 left in the first half.

Graham hit a three with 12:30 remaining on a nice feed from Brent Crews to extend the lead back to six, but Trojan guard Terrance Akins would get two points back on the next possession to make it a four-point game, 43-39.

An Akins triple cut the lead down to just two, 44-42 with 11:10 left to play, but Rice stepped up as he has all season and hit a layup late in the shot clock, followed by a Simmons layup after a Crews steal to extend the lead back to six, 48-42.

A Monroe layup and Rice triple would make it a 9-0 run and extend the lead back to 11, 53-42 at the 9:16 mark for FAU's biggest lead of the game to that point. Five straight points by UALR cut the lead back down to six, but Rice would hit another big three and FAU would lead by nine once again, 58-49 with less than seven minutes left to play.

Another Rice three gave FAU a 12-point lead, 65-53, with under four minutes in regulation.

The Owls led by nine with 1:21 in regulation when Rice stepped to the charity stripe. He split the pair to give the Owls a double-digit margin, but Malone would convert an offensive put-back to make it an eight-point game in the final minute, 70-62.

A pair of Alarcon free throws would give the Owls a nine-point lead and seemingly the clincher, but De'Andre Eggins hit a three and was fouled for the rare four-point play, dragging the Trojans back into the game, 73-68.

Freshman Avery Holley went to the line with two critical free throw attempts pending, and knocked both down to assure the Owls the home victory. UALR would hit a meaningless three at the horn for the final margin, 75-71.

UALR's Jones-Jennings finished with another double-double, his nation-leading 14th, scoring a team-high 18 points and grabbing a startling 22 rebounds.

The Owls (10-11, 6-5 SBC) will head to the road for three games next week in what could be a critical stretch as the team makes a push toward the top of the division standings. FAU faces Arkansas State on January 31.

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