Memphis nearly escaped with a win on Friday night, which would have given Penny Hardaway and the Tigers a very straightforward path to the Sweet 16.
But after a missed attempt by Memphis at a timeout, Florida Atlantic was given one last chance — and it capitalized.
Nicholas Boyd, after catching an inbounds pass in the corner with 5.5 second to play, drove to the basket and sank a game-winning layup in the final seconds to give No. 9 FAU the 66-65 win over No. 8 Memphis at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.
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That marked FAU’s first ever NCAA tournament win and sent the Owls into the second round, where they’ll take on Fairleigh Dickinson with a spot in the Sweet 16 on the line. No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson beat No. 1 Purdue earlier on Friday in just the second such upset of its kind in tournament history.
Boyd’s final layup was set up only after a chaotic sequence that almost certainly should have resulted in a Memphis timeout. The Tigers, after turning the ball over at midcourt in the final seconds, ended up poking the ball free again. Tigers guard Jayden Hardaway then dove on it in a scramble and appeared to have full possession as multiple Tigers players called for a timeout.
Officials, however, didn’t see the calls. They instead called a jump ball.
As that’s not reviewable, and the Owls had the possession arrow, they got the ball with the final 5.5 seconds left on the clock. That set up Boyd’s final layup, and eventually gave them the win.
The elder Hardaway was not happy.
Penny Hardaway chucks his water bottle pic.twitter.com/d1HbAjAOcI
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“It was a crazy game from start to finish," Hardaway said, via Sporting News' Bill Bender. "It hurts more giving up a layup for a win. … We needed one stop, and we couldn’t get that one stop.”
Giancarlo Rosado led FAU with 15 points off the bench, and Johnell Davis added 12 points and five rebounds. Boyd added eight points, and his final layup was just his third made field goal of the night.
Kendric Davis led Memphis with 16 points in the loss. DeAndre Williams added 13 points and 13 rebounds. They were the only two Tigers players to score in double figures.
The Tigers have not reached the Sweet 16 since 2014, and had only snapped a seven-year tournament dry spell last year. If they had gotten past FAU, the path to the second weekend of the tournament would have been perhaps the easiest out there — considering FDU’s incredible upset over the Boilermakers.
Instead, FAU will have that chance in just its second tournament appearance in school history.