SportsCollege SportsFlorida Atlantic University


Bryant stuns No. 10 FAU 61-52, snapping Owls' 19-game home winning streak

Bulldogs hold Owls to 26% shooting, 20% in second half
FAU Owls forward Giancarlo Rosado drives to basket as Bryant forward Daniel Rivera defends, Nov. 18, 2023
Posted at 10:46 PM, Nov 18, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-18 22:58:59-05

BOCA RATON, Fla. — Consider the last week in the life of Bryant coach Phil Martelli Jr.

His team lost to Rutgers on Sunday, his former boss resigned Monday, he got promoted to head coach Wednesday, his team lost to a previously winless Boston University team Thursday and he boarded a flight to Boca Raton on Friday wondering if he was the problem.

Saturday was better. Much better — after he and the Bulldogs pulled off a stunner.

Sherif Gross-Bullock scored 19 points, Earl Timberlake added 13 and Bryant stunned No. 10 Florida Atlantic 61-52 on Saturday night to end the Owls' 19-game home winning streak.

"This is a great moment and certainly it ranks up there," Martelli Jr. said. "But we're building towards highlights in February, March and hopefully beyond."

Daniel Rivera scored 12 and Rafael Pinzon added 10 for the Bulldogs (2-3), who were 0-10 against ranked opponents since becoming full members of Division I — losing those games by an average of 28.8 points, the most recent of those contests by 67 points against Houston in 2021.

Didn't matter. They held the Owls to 26% shooting, 20% in the second half.

"Hats off to Bryant," FAU coach Dusty May said. "They played determined, they played well, they made plays when they needed to make them. It's a good basketball team that's faced a lot of adversity and they came together as a group today."

Johnell Davis scored 17 and Giancarlo Rosado finished with 11 for the Owls (2-1). The Final Four program from last season entered the game as 22.5-point favorites, according to FanDuel Sportsbook, against a Bryant team whose only win this season came against NAIA member Fisher.

Bryant Bulldogs guard Earl Timberlake and forward Connor Withers go after rebound as FAU Owls forward Giancarlo Rosado defends, Nov. 18, 2023
Bryant guard Earl Timberlake and forward Connor Withers go after a rebound as Florida Atlantic forward Giancarlo Rosado defends during the second half Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023, in Boca Raton, Fla.

The Bulldogs had been 0-3, all blowouts, against Top 10 competition since fully joining Division I. They lost to then-No. 1 Indiana by 43 in 2012, lost to then-No. 3 Ohio State by 38 in 2013 and lost to then-No. 5 Duke by 38 in 2015.

Briefly, this looked like it would be the same. FAU ran out to a 10-2 lead, starting 4 for 6 from the field. They went 4 for their next 25. That cold shooting never stopped — not on 3-pointers, not on layups, not even on free throws.

"I can't imagine us having another shooting performance like that ever again," May said.

Martelli Jr.'s former boss, now-former Bryant coach Jared Grasso, resigned Monday. That led to the interim tag being taken off Martelli Jr., who had been the associate head coach and running the team in Grasso's absence. Martelli Jr. didn't sleep after the loss to Boston University; part of that was the before-dawn departure to the airport, part of that was just frustration.

Bryant Bulldogs basketball coach at FAU Owls, Nov. 18, 2023
Bryant head coach Phil Martelli Jr. gestures during the first half against Florida Atlantic, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023, in Boca Raton, Fla.

And now, he's got a Top 10 win.

"We still feel like we can do more," Gross-Bullock said. "This is just motivation for the next one."

The Bulldogs went on runs of 11-0 and 8-0 in the first half and went into the break down only 29-26 despite shooting 32%, which was 1% better than the Owls managed in the first 20 minutes.

Bryant didn't shoot much better in the second half. But the Bulldogs made FAU shoot even worse.