Florida Atlantic continued its improbable run through the NCAA Tournament on Saturday, defeating Kansas State in the East Regional Final to make the Final Four.
The Owls were money from the free-throw line in the game’s final seconds, with Michael Forrest nailing four free throws at the end of the game. But even with those free throws, the Wildcats had a chance to tie.
With 6.9 seconds, they inbounded the ball trailing by only three points. But Markquis Nowell could not keep his magic going. Nowell dribbled the ball up the court with seemingly little to no urgency. Just after he crossed midcourt, Nowell was met by the Florida Atlantic defense. He passed the ball to Ismael Massoud, who took one dribble before the ball was knocked out of his hands.
The final buzzer sounded without the Wildcats mustering anything resembling a shot.
THE FLORIDA ATLANTIC OWLS ARE GOING TO THE FINAL FOUR! 🏀🦉#MarchMadness #FAU pic.twitter.com/k3OHw1BNjQ
— The Comeback (@thecomeback) March 26, 2023
College basketball fans were left wondering what exactly the Wildcats were going for there.
What in the world was that last play for K State?
— Chris Trainor (@ChrisTrainorSC) March 26, 2023
That last Kansas State play pic.twitter.com/nwhnhTi548
— Chris Jackson (@ChrisCJackson) March 26, 2023
Very surprised Nowell passed the ball to Massoud with 6 seconds to go. He been pulling up from the logo all tournament and now passes? #MarchMadness
— Faisal Hassan (@Faazzla) March 26, 2023
Man what a sad ending to a magical season for Kansas State.
The NY natives Markquis Nowell and Ish Massoud had the ball but couldn’t get a shot up to try to tie it.
Another great run to the Elite Eight for the Wildcats.
— PJ Green (@PJGreenTV) March 26, 2023
Would a well-designed final play have changed the result? It would have been tough, for sure. Making a three-pointer with only a few seconds remaining is tough, especially when the opposing team knows that you need the three and isn’t bothering to defend anything inside the three-point line.
But the Wildcats couldn’t have done much worse. Even if Massoud had shot the ball immediately, it would have been a long, well-defended three. But to not even get that off is a particularly bitter end to an otherwise great March Madness run.