CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP)Vladislav Goldin and No. 19 Florida Atlantic are hoping Saturday marked the start of another long win streak that will carry them deep into the postseason.
Goldin had 15 points and the Owls pulled away in the second half for a 67-52 victory over Charlotte, just two days after their 20-game win streak was snapped following a road loss at UAB.
Alijah Martin added 11 points and Brandon Weatherspoon had 10 for the Owls (22-2, 12-1 Conference USA), who outscored Charlotte 37-21 in the second half.
FAU had put together a school-record 20 straight wins – a streak dating back to a Nov. 14 win at Florida – before getting away from their strength against UAB, which is moving the ball and creating shots on offense. That all changed against Charlotte where unselfish passes led to open 3s and 13 assisted baskets.
FAU coach Dusty May said he doesn’t believe the streak added any pressure to his players, but added there may be some good that comes from the loss.
”The benefit is now they aren’t going to get so much chatter and love on social media,” May said. ”They aren’t going to get the external love and that will allow us to focus on getting better. When you are told how great you are for a long time, young guys have a tendency to believe it.”
Brice Williams led Charlotte (13-10, 4-8) with 14 points.
The Owls built a 10-point lead in the first half before the 49ers rallied to take a 31-30 lead at the break with Lu’Cye Patterson scoring on a spin move on the low block and converting the ensuing free throw for a three-point play.
But FAU owned the second half.
The Owls opened with an 20-4 run, finding success pounding the ball inside to 7-foot-1 Goldin, who scored four straight points and helped open driving lanes and spot up 3s for his teammates. With Charlotte’s 6-11 center Aly Khalifa out for a second straight game due to what coach Ron Sanchez deemed ”health and safety protocols,” the 49ers lacked the height to stop Goldin from dominating the paint.
Bryan Greenlee and Michael Forrest took advantage of Charlotte’s collapsing defense, knocking down back-to-back 3-pointers to help put the Owls up by 15 with 10 minutes remaining.
”Those baskets down low by Vlad probably caused them to shrink in a little more and then Greenlee gets a couple of 3s, so our shooters were able to shake loose and make some baskets,” May said.
Greenlee came open off a screen to hit another 3 to push the lead to 17 with 4 1/2 minutes remaining leaving little doubt about the outcome, particularly with Charlotte struggling to get much going on the offensive end – often using the entire shot clock before settling for low percentage shots.
FAU was 9 of 20 from 3-point range.
”We talked in the locker room about how we can be better in the second half because we didn’t play how we were supposed to play in the first half,” Goldin said. ”That was one of the things we talked about is getting the ball into the post.”
Unlike in the previous meeting where Charlotte was able to cut a 20-point deficit to two before ultimately losing 71-67, there would be no frantic rally.
”They played a phenomenal second half, both offensively and defensively,” Sanchez said. ”They are a top 20 team in the country for a reason and they showed that today. They are so balanced in their scoring.”
Florida Atlantic: It was a good second half for the Owls, who shot 61% from the field after the break, while holding the 49ers to 31.8% shooting.
Charlotte: The 49ers entered the game 4-7 in conference play, but have been competitive with the last six defeats by four points or less. They didn’t put up a big fight in the second half without Khalifa’s inside presence. ”He’s so important to what we do,” Sanchez said.
Florida Atlantic: Host Rice on Thursday night.
Charlotte: At UTEP on Thursday night.
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