Senior guard Greg Gantt scored a season-high 23 points, but it was freshman Stefan Moody's 3-pointer that proved decisive for Florida Atlantic in the Owls' 58-55 victory over American University.
Playing their home opener after winning only once in their first four games, the Owls trailed for much of the second half after losing nearly all of an eight-point advantage in the final two minutes of the first half.
But after taking their first lead with just under 11 minutes to go in the game, the visitors were never able to pull away.
Moody's trey gave the Owls a 56-55 lead with 14 seconds remaining, and he hit two free throws for the final margin. He ended up with eight points.
Gantt, who had scored only 18 points combined in the previous two games, was only 6 of 14 from the field overall but was 5 of 10 on 3-pointers and hit all six of his free-throw attempts in topping the 20-point mark for the first time this season.
Senior forward Stephen Lumpkins led American in scoring with 17 points.
The game was the first of three in a row at home for the Owls, who host South Alabama in their Sun Belt Conference opener on Thursday. They play their second league game when Arkansas State visits two nights later.