Dec. 20, 2002
LYNCHBURG, VA -- Earnest Crumbley led all scorers with 23 points, but it wasn't enough as Florida Atlantic University was defeated by Liberty University, 84-79, Friday night in Lynchburg, VA. Liberty's Gabe Martin scored 21 points and went 18-for-18 from the foul line.
FAU (4-6) scored the first five points of the game before Liberty took its first lead at 10-8 on a jumper by Philip Ward with 15:35 left in the half. The Flames would take a 38-28 lead at the 2:52 mark on a three-pointer by Ryan Mantlo. FAU responded with 10 straight points over the next 1:37. The run included seven points by Jeff Cowans, who finished with 19 and moved into third-place all-time in scoring at FAU. A Crumbley bucket with three seconds left in the half made the score 43-40 in favor of Liberty at the break.
The Owls would never lead the rest of the way as they could only get as close as one point with 17:27 left in the game. Liberty (5-3) opened up a 12-point lead with13:04 left on a pair of free throws by Ward. FAU went on a 7-0 run, capped off by a trey by Crumbley, to pull to within five points. But, the Flames would edge back out by 10 points with 9:57 left before FAU tried to come back again.
A three-pointer by Cowans with 4:30 left cut Liberty's lead to 75-69. With 1:08 left, Cowans nailed another trey to trim the deficit to two points at 79-77. However, Liberty would score its final five points from the line to secure the victory. FAU never had the ball with a chance to tie or take the lead.
The game was more than decided at the free throw line as Liberty went 35-for-40 compared to FAU's 9-for-13. The Owls shot 43.1 percent from the field while Liberty went 44.9 percent.
"I was proud of the way our guys kept fighting down the stretch even though we trailed by as many as 12 points," said FAU head coach Sidney Green. "Unfortunately, we just couldn't make that final push."
One oddity was the Owls took 72 field goals attempts compared to the Flames' 49. FAU made 31 field goals compared to Liberty's 22. FAU forced 19 turnovers and committed 14.
"We had more guys on our bench than at any other time this year," added Green. "The nice thing is that we can now look forward to having our full squad as we approach our conference season."
Sophomore transfer Jimmy Bishop made his debut for the Owls and played 13 minutes.
Florida Atlantic next plays at San Diego State, December 28, before concluding its non-conference slate, December 30, at UC-Irvine.