Florida Atlantic jumped out to an early 22-point lead and led by 20 at the half, then nearly blew it in the second half before surviving for a 79-69 victory over Stetson on Tuesday night in Boca Raton, Fla.
Guard Solomon Poole scored a team-high 23 points in his Florida Atlantic debut. A transfer from Georgia Tech, Poole previously was expected to sit out the season. Center Justin Raffington added 13 points and 11 rebounds for the Owls, and guard Marquan Botley scored 13 points.
Forward Kentwan Smith topped Stetson with 20 points. Hatters center Kyle Sikora and guard Divine Myles scored 11 points apiece, with Sikora’s total a career high for the senior.
The Owls scored the first eight points of the game and continued on to a 43-21 advantage with less than two minutes left in the first half before settling for a 45-25 cushion at the break.
But the visiting Hatters, who made only 11 of 27 shots in the first half, came out hot in the second, sinking their first four shots to ignite a rally that would cut the deficit to 52-46.
The Owls scored eight unanswered points to get their lead back to double digits, but the Hatters made one more run to get the gap down to 65-60 before FAU finally put it away
Florida Atlantic (5-3) earned its fourth win in a row.
The Hatters, who played without their leader scorer, forward Brian Pegg, fell to 3-8 in losing for the sixth time in their past seven outings. Pegg, who is averaging 12 points a game, missed his second consecutive game because of back spasms.
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