March 4, 2004
NASHVILLE, TN - Florida Atlantic University was defeated by Troy State University, 85-82, Thursday afternoon in a quarterfinal game of the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament in Nashville, TN. FAU entered the tournament as the no. 8 seed while TSU was no.1. The loss ends FAU's season at 9-19. Earnest Crumbley led FAU in his final collegiate game with 20 points. TSU (23-5) led by 14 points with 14:50 left in the game before FAU rallied and had a chance to tie on its last possession.
TSU was led by Herbert Evans, who scored 23. Kendrick Johnson had 20. Ryan Heck added 16 while Greg Davis finished with 13 points and 11 assists.
FAU started the game red-hot from the field. The Owls led 8-0 with just over a minute gone by in the first half and had an 11-2 lead at the 18:40 mark. That pace continued as FAU built a 24-13 lead with 13:32 left in the half. Bishop scored 12 of FAU's first 24 points. The Trojans responded with a 9-0 run and eventually took their first lead, 31-30, with 10:15 left in the half. TSU built a 40-34 lead with 8:10 before the Owls went on an 11-1 run to lead 45-41 with 3:38 left. The run was capped off by an Edwards' dunk. The Trojans came back and led 50-49 at the half.
The difference in the game was the first 5:10 of the second half. The Trojans scored the first eight points and led 58-49 at the 18:41 mark. A Bishop three made it 60-54 with 16:49 left. The Trojans then went on a 10-2 run to build the 14-point lead with less than 15 minutes remaining.
The Owls battled back with a 16-5 run over the next 6:15. Crumbley scored 12 of his points during that stretch to help trim the lead to 75-72 with 8:35 left in the game. TSU went up 79-72 before Kahleaf Watson and Crumbley each went 2-for-2 from the line to draw the Owls within 79-76 at the 4:04 mark.
FAU pulled to within 83-82 on a three-point play by Edwards with 1:56 remaining. Neither team scored until Evans went 1-for-2 from the line with 1:02 left to give TSU an 84-82 lead. Evans' second free throw missed, but the Trojans grabbed the rebound and worked more time off the clock before Heck went 1-for-2 from the stripe to make it 85-82.
With no timeouts left, the Owls worked the ball up the court, and Mike Bell missed a three-pointer with two seconds left. Crumbley rebounded the ball in the lane but didn't have enough time to get back outside the arc for another shot.
"I have to give a lot of credit to Troy State," said FAU head coach Sidney Green. "They played well and hit some critical shots down the stretch. I'm also proud of our guys. They showed a lot of heart and a lot fight."
FAU finished the game shooting 46 percent while TSU shot 47 percent. The two teams combined for an A-Sun Tournament record 27 three-pointers. The previous mark was 22 set in 1994. The Owls were 11-for-28 from beyond the arc. Crumbley made four while Bishop had a career-high four. The Trojans connected on 16 of their 37 attempts. Johnson made six from beyond the arc while Evans and Heck each made four.
The game was a battle between the previous two A-Sun Tournament champions. FAU won it in 2002 while TSU won in 2003.
The game marked the end of careers for Crumbley, Jeff Cowans, Jeff Hamilton, and Edwards. Crumbley finished his FAU career as the all-time leader with 1,559 points. His seven assists against TSU gave him 505 for his career, also a record. Cowans, who scored five points, finished third in FAU history with 1,386 points.