Men’s Basketball: Michael Forrest and Alijah Martin combine for 34 points as FAU routs Florida Tech 78-55

This win marks FAU’s fourth straight home victory.


Courtesy of FAU Athletics

Alijah Martin (#15) tied Michael Forrest for a game-high 17 points each against Florida Tech on Dec. 17, 2021.

Trey Avant, Staff Writer

The FAU Owls (7-5) blew out the Florida Tech Panthers (8-3) 78-55 in the team’s final non-conference home matchup Friday night in the Burrow at Abessinio Court. This win marks FAU’s fourth straight home victory.

In the first half, freshman guard Alijah Martin led the way for the Owls. He exploded for 14 points including four three-pointers in 14 minutes.

Junior guard Michael Forrest did a little bit of everything throughout the period, tallying 12 points, three rebounds, four assists, and a steal.

“I thought they took good shots. They got good looks and Alijah got it going in the first half and our guys were looking for him, they were moving the ball,” head coach Dusty May said. “They took what the defense gave them and they’re both capable of even shooting a better percentage than they shot tonight with the looks that they got but our team needs those two to score. When they’re on the floor, we’re a much more effective basketball team.”

FAU was more physical on the glass from the jump, outrebounding Florida Tech 22-16, including nine offensive rebounds to Florida Tech’s one offensive rebound. FAU’s dominance on the glass early on led to seven second-chance points.

Graduate forward Bitumba Baruti was key to FAU’s effectiveness on the boards. He finished the half with eight points and seven rebounds in 11 minutes.

Florida Tech junior guard Sesan Russell led the team with 11 points but left the game early after a hard collision. He did not return.

“After a sluggish first half, our guys came out in the second half with a purpose to set the tone defensively. From a competitive spirit standpoint, I’m very proud of them for rallying together and playing the right way in the second half,” May said.

The second half saw the Owls break the game open with a 12-2 run and Florida Tech could not stop the bleeding. FAU led by as many as 27 points at one point.

Sophomore guard Bryan Greenlee took charge of the offense after going scoreless in the first half and shooting a perfect 5-5 from the field. He finished with 12 points.

Forrest finished the game with 17 points, five rebounds, four assists, and two steals. He also drained two three-pointers which mark the 199th and 200th three-pointers of his career. Forrest now moves up to 10th all-time on FAU’s scoring list.

Martin ended with 17 points and three assists with five three-pointers.

In only 18 minutes, Baruti still made his presence felt on the court, finishing just shy of a double-double with 13 points and nine rebounds, including three thunderous slam dunks.

“I thought Bitumba was the player of the game. I thought he brought a great level of physicality, toughness, and energy. He was quick off the floor,” May said. “Very rarely do you watch basketball now and see players play so hard that they’re utterly and physically exhausted. He did that a couple times tonight where he played so hard he had to ask for a [substitution] and I’m very proud [of] his unselfishness to do that.”

Junior guard Sean Houpt was the only other player to score in double digits for Florida Tech. He finished the game with 14 points and seven rebounds.

FAU’s physicality proved too much for Florida Tech to handle as they outrebounded the Panthers 44-35.

The Owls will travel to High Point, N.C. to take on the High Point Panthers on Tuesday, Dec. 21 at 7 p.m. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+.

Trey Avant is a staff writer for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @TreyAvant3.