THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 2002
Men's Basketball Falls In First Round Of A-Sun Tourney To FAU, 59-50

Feb 28, 2002

Box Score

By MIKE BRANOM
Associated Press Writer

ORLANDO, Fla. - Jeff Cowans had 14 points and third-seeded Florida Atlantic rallied from a 13-point deficit to beat Jacksonville 59-50 in the first round of the Atlantic Sun tournament Thursday night.

The Owls (17-11) will meet seventh-seeded Jacksonville State in Friday night's semifinals. The Gamecocks upset second-seeded Troy State earlier Thursday.

FAU outscored the fifth-seeded Dolphins 12-3 in the final four minutes. Earlier in the half, Jacksonville (18-12) was held scoreless for a 6:45 stretch.

The Dolphins shot 30 percent in the second half while committing 10 turnovers against two assists.

Kevin Sheppard had 15 points on 3-for-10 shooting with six turnovers to lead Jacksonville. Travis Robinson, who entered as the Dolphins' leading scorer, was held to three points in 15 minutes.

Florida Atlantic trailed 36-23 early in the second half before rallying to tie the game with 10:15 left to play. Earnest Crumbley's fast-break 3-pointer ended a run of 11 unanswered points to knot the score at 38.

Crumbley later put the Owls ahead for good, breaking a 47-all tie with a driving layin at the 3:46 mark. He finished with 10 points despite turning the ball over six times.

After Jacksonville's Ali Kaba missed the front end of a one-and-one 23 seconds later, Cowans drilled a shake-and-bake jumper from the left wing. That put the Owls ahead by four points, and they never looked back.

The opening half was by far the sloppiest 20 minutes seen yet at the tournament.

FAU shot 24 percent (8-for-33), committed 10 turnovers and was held to six points over the half's last 9:57. Only Andre Garner's 3-pointer eight seconds before intermission saved the Owls from a double-digit deficit at halftime.

But Jacksonville, with problems of its own, couldn't capitalize and only led 29-21 at the break. Down the stretch, the Dolphins missed eight of 11 shots from the field and five of seven free throws - including the front end of three one-and-ones.

Coming out of the break, Sheppard had five of the Dolphins' first seven points, and his 3-pointer gave them their biggest lead of the game.