Nick Boyd slashed to the basket for the decisive hoop with 2.5 seconds left as Florida Atlantic nipped Memphis 66-65 on Friday night in an East Region first-round matchup in Columbus, Ohio.
The ninth-seeded Owls (32-3) earned the first NCAA Tournament win in school history and advanced to face Fairleigh Dickinson, which stunned Purdue earlier in the evening to become just the second No. 16 seed to upset a No. 1 seed.
Boyd got the ball in the corner with seconds remaining and dribbled hard to his left, finishing just over the outstretched arms of two Memphis defenders. The eighth-seeded Tigers (26-9) did not get off a final shot before time expired.
“I thought our guys did a great job staying together, staying the course, finding a way to grab enough rebounds,” Florida Atlantic coach Dusty May said. “And they took care of the basketball. Those were the keys to the game against a scrappy, tough, athletic team like Memphis.
“Credit (DeAndre) Williams, he came in and got a couple of big tip-ins, it was back and forth, but our guys stayed the course, they stayed together, and they believed in each other.”
Memphis coach Penny Hardaway said, “Crazy game from start to finish. It hurts more giving up a layup for the win. You work the whole year talking about defense, and hang your hat on defense, we needed one stop. Couldn’t get that one stop.
“It’s not one person’s fault. A lot of things happened throughout the game to help put them in position to be able to win the game. We just didn’t get it done.”
The teams exchanged the lead on athletic one-handed tip-ins in the final minute. Alijah Martin put Florida Atlantic ahead 64-63 with his putback with 57 seconds to go, only to watch DeAndre Williams answer for Memphis with 34 seconds left, giving the Tigers a 65-64 lead.
The Tigers went on an 8-1 run to take a 51-44 lead on Malcolm Dandridge’s dunk with about 10 minutes left. However, the Owls made four 3-pointers — the final two coming from Johnell Davis — to forge a 60-60 tie with just under four minutes to play.
In the midst of that run, the Tigers’ Kendric Davis injured his ankle and hobbled off the court in serious pain. Shortly thereafter, he was seen screaming at Dandridge, who then shoved him while walking to the bench.
That wasn’t the only chaos that Memphis overcame in the second half.
After picking up two fouls in the first half, Williams committed two more fouls in the first 2 1/2 minutes of the second half. He only sat out for a few minutes despite the foul trouble and finished with 13 points and 13 rebounds.
Additionally, Davis threw the ball away with the Tigers holding a one-point lead in the final seconds, leading to a tie-up with 5.5 seconds to go. That gave the possession back to the Owls, who inbounded to Boyd in the corner, setting up the winning drive.
Florida Atlantic created some first-half separation with a 17-4 run that turned a three-point deficit into a 25-15 advantage. The burst included nine points from Giancarlo Rosado, who came in averaging 5.6 points per game but led the Owls with 15 points on 6-for-6 shooting in this one.
Memphis eventually caught up at 29-29 on Jayden Hardaway’s 3-pointer and later took a 35-31 lead into the break.
–Field Level Media