BROOKLYN, N.Y. — It’s the best of times for Northwestern, and the worst of times for Florida Atlantic.

A tale of two halves went to overtime, and the ninth-seeded Wildcats dominated the final five minutes for a 77-65 victory over No. 8 FAU.

No lead had grown past four until Boo Buie hit a three to give Northwestern a 33-27 lead with just over 15 minutes to go. That lead grew to nine with eight minutes left, and the Northwestern-heavy crowd got loud. 

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Ryan Langbord

Ryan Langborg (5) of the Northwestern Wildcats celebrates at the end of regulation before overtime against the Florida Atlantic Owls in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at Barclays Center March 22, 2024, in New York City.  (Elsa/Getty Images)

But FAU responded with a 13-2 run of its own to take the lead. FAU’s Vlad Goldin went to the line for a one-and-one with 26 seconds left and a two-point lead, but he missed after making his previous six, giving the Cats a chance for the last shot. Brooks Barnhizer tied it with a layup with nine seconds left, and FAU’s potential buzzer beater was blocked, sending the game to overtime.

The overtime period was all Wildcats, as they knocked down all five of their shot attempts while FAU missed its first four, and it was too late for another Owls comeback.

Ryan Langborg pumped

Ryan Langborg (5) of the Northwestern Wildcats celebrates at the end of regulation before overtime against the Florida Atlantic Owls in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at Barclays Center March 22, 2024, in New York City.  (Elsa/Getty Images)

NO. 14 OAKLAND STUNS NO. 3 KENTUCKY BEHIND STELLAR PERFORMANCE BY DIVISION II TRANSFER

The teams combined to score just 39 points in the first half, and FAU led, 20-19. Only three Owls scored in the first half — Johnell Davis (11), Alijah Martin (six) and Vlad Goldin (three), while the team combined for 12 turnovers. But Northwestern shot just 21.2% from the field.

Naturally, buckets were exchanged at an absurd rate in the second half, and the teams combined for 77 points, one point shy of doubling the first-half total.

Ryan Langbord led all scorers with 27 points – 12 in overtime – in the win, while Buie added 22.

Northwestern going crazy

Nick Martinelli (2) of the Northwestern Wildcats reacts during overtime against the Florida Atlantic Owls in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at Barclays Center March 22, 2024, in New York City.  (Elsa/Getty Images)

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Northwestern will face the winner of No. 1 UConn and No. 16 Stetson on Sunday in Brooklyn.

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