Nwoji scores 20 as FAU tops FAU in Sun Belt conference opener
BOCA RATON, Fla. (AP)—Carderro Nwoji scored 20 points and Florida Atlantic beat Florida International 91-64 in the first round of the Sun Belt Conference tournament on Wednesday night, avenging two regular-season losses to its rival.
Carlos Monroe scored 16 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, while Jeff Parmer and Paul Graham III each scored 12 points for the Owls, who won for the eighth time in their last 11 games.
Nwoji was 5-for-6 from 3-point range for the Owls, who were 12-for-18 beyond the arc as a team.
Florida Atlantic (15-17) plays second-seeded Arkansas-Little Rock (19-10) in the tournament quarterfinals at Mobile, Ala. on Sunday night. FAU lost its only meeting with Arkansas-Little Rock this season, 80-76 on Jan. 27.
Russell Hicks scored 18 points and Alex Galindo finished with 15 for FIU (9-20), which lost to FAU in the Sun Belt’s opening round for the second straight year.
FAU took command quickly, running out to a 22-7 lead after 8 minutes. Nwoji hit two of the Owls’ four 3-pointers in the early going, while Florida International missed eight of its first 10 shots.
The Golden Panthers tried to get back into it, closing within 30-22 on a pair of free throws by Galindo with 6:14 left before halftime, but the rest of the period was all FAU. The Owls used another run to stretch the lead to 19 late in the half, before settling for a 50-33 lead at intermission.
FAU put it away with a 15-0 second-half run, stretching the margin to 77-48 with 9:48 left.