Men’s Basketball: Alijah Martin’s 34 points lead Owls to 84-76 win over FIU

Martin became the first Owl since Cornelius Taylor in 2020 to have a 30-point performance.


Eston Parker III

Alijah Martin (#15) scored a career-high 34 points to lead the Owls to victory against FIU on March 5, 2022.

Richard Pereira, Business Manager

FAU men’s basketball (18-13, 11-7 C-USA) played their last regular-season game in the Burrow at Abessinio Court Saturday afternoon, clinching an 84-76 victory against the Florida International University (FIU) Panthers (15-16, 5-13 C-USA).

The Owls took a comfortable 23-13 lead less than nine minutes into the first half. Freshman guard Alijah Martin played a role in helping the team start well, connecting on back-to-back three-pointers to force FIU to call a timeout with 11:19 remaining in the half.

FAU continued strangling the Panthers on the defensive end, forcing 10 turnovers and limiting them to 29 points total on 40% shooting from the field, including 27.3% from beyond the arc. Martin had 18 points once halftime came around, the most on the team.

“I don’t think [Martin] had his best defensive game but offensively, he was sensational,” head coach Dusty May said. “He continues to learn and grow and he has a bright future playing the game of basketball.”

Martin maintained his aggression as the period went on, getting his 30th point with a spectacular one-handed dunk with 8:58 remaining in the game that brought fans up to their feet with excitement. With the bucket, he became the first Owl since Cornelius Taylor in 2020 to have a 30-point performance.

“I just try to be a dog. Our team needs me to be a dog every night,” Martin said. “Just trying to be a dog so we can be a great team.”

FIU was not discouraged as the team fought back and pressured the Owls well in the second half, going on a 28-15 run to cut the Owls’ lead to single-digits with 7:18 to go.

“We had a little trouble with it,” sophomore guard Bryan Greenlee said. “I just think it took a little bit of adjusting and realizing that we could be more aggressive instead of more timid against the press.”

The Owls held on in the final minutes, getting crucial buckets and free-throws from freshman guard Johnell Davis, Martin, and Greenlee to end conference play on a solid note.

Martin finished with a career-high 34 points and six rebounds on 11-17 shooting. Greenlee came behind with 17 points, four rebounds, and two assists, while freshman forward Giancarlo Rosado had 12 points and four boards off the bench.  

Two FIU players scored 20 points or more: sophomore guard Javaunte Hawkins and graduate forward Clevon Brown. Hawkins had a team-high 21 points and three assists on 8-14 shooting, including five three-pointers made. Brown turned in 20 points, eight rebounds, a steal, and a block. 

“We didn’t win the East Division so we are now trying to win the conference tournament, but we are still trying to chase a championship to bring one back to Boca,” Martin said. “Just taking one game at a time.”

With conference play concluding, the Owls await their opponent in the first round of the Conference USA Tournament, which will take place in Frisco, Tex. starting March 8 and ending March 12.

“I think we’re as healthy as we’ve ever been this late in the season with all of our weapons and I think we’re a team that can go to Frisco and cause some problems,” May said. “I think we have the depth [and] experience in the guard play with the physical inside play also to be a tough out in Frisco.”

Richard Pereira is the Business Manager for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @Rich26Pereira.