No. 9 seed Florida Atlantic stunned No. 3 seed Kansas State 79-76 in the Elite Eight on Saturday to advance to the school’s first Final Four.
Both teams got off to a hot start, trading baskets until Owls’ big man Vladislav Goldin made a layup to take the lead 20-18. The Owls would go into half with 42-38 lead.
However, the Wildcats came storming back in the second half behind star guard Markquis Nowell’s shooting and playmaking abilities. Kansas State led by as many as five before yet again the Owls came flying back into the game.
Behind Alijah Martin’s 17 points, the Owls took back the lead with just over six minutes to play.
With 30 seconds to play and down four points, Wildcats guard Cam Carter chucked up a three and made it to cut the game to one point. However, Owls guard Michael Forrest knocked down clutch free throws to help secure the win.
Goldin finished with 14 points and 13 rebounds.
Florida Atlantic head coach Dusty May, alongside his team, told the TBS broadcast how his team has worked together to create something “special.”
“When you see a group of guys, coaching staff, players, everybody pulling in the same direction, every single day even when it’s hard, special things happen,” May said.
Nowell, a native of New York, playing in front of his brother at Madison Square Garden, scored 30 points, 12 assists, and five steals in the loss. The 23-year-old broke a men’s NCAA tournament record in the team’s sweet sixteen win over Michigan State after tallying 19 assists.
Florida Atlantic becomes the second No. 9 seed to make the Final Four, joining Wichita State in 2013. The Owls are also the first program to go from zero all-time men’s NCAA tournament wins to the Final Four in a single year since George Mason in 2006.
The Owls will play the winner of No. 6 Creighton and No. 5 San Diego State on April 1 at NRG Stadium in Houston.