All evidence pointed to another chapter in Markquis Nowell’s illustrious career, another all-time effort for Kansas State in one of the greatest individual runs in NCAA tournament history. With 8:37 seconds remaining in Saturday’s East Region final against Florida Atlantic, Nowell caught the ball on the right wing, used a ball screen, and drained a contested step-back 3-pointer over the Owls’ Johnell Davis.
Photo Cred: CNN
It went in for a six-point advantage for the Wildcats. Nowell went down the floor, mimicking Michael Jordan’s shrug. It was occurring once more. Then, all of a sudden, it wasn’t. This is a team that won 20 games in a row earlier this season and is now on an 11-game winning streak.
Second-half runs have been a theme for FAU all tournament. The Owls were 2.5 seconds from getting knocked out in the first round by Memphis until Nick Boyd hit a game-winning layup for a one-point win. They were down in the second half to 16-seed Fairleigh Dickinson in the second round before going on a 12-2 run midway through the half. Against Tennessee in the Sweet 16, FAU used an 18-2 run to turn a six-point deficit into a 10-point lead.
“We always say, those types of shots, guys like that cannot hit enough to beat us,” FAU guard Bryan Greenlee said. “They might hit enough to keep it close, but eventually, their gas is going to run out. And I feel like that’s what happened.”
Photo Cred: CNN
Kansas State didn’t convert another field goal for nearly seven minutes, as FAU went on a 15-1 run to defeat the 3-seed Wildcats 79-76. Despite Nowell’s tournament-long heroics, on the final possession, with Kansas State down three with 6.9 seconds left, he didn’t even get a chance to tie the score. The clock struck zero, and FAU had its nation-leading 35th win of the season.