Men’s Basketball: Alijah Martin’s 26 points leads Owls past LA Tech

Three players on FAU’s roster scored 17+ points as the Owls took down the Bulldogs in overtime Thursday afternoon.


Nicholas Windfelder

Sophomore guard Alijah Martin with the first three point shot for the Owls against Louisiana Tech, bringing the score to a tie at seven points.

Cameron Priester, Sports Editor

FAU men’s basketball (24-2, 14-1 C-USA) took down the Louisiana Tech University Bulldogs (13-12, 6-8 C-USA) 90-85 in their second consecutive comeback victory Saturday afternoon at Eleanor R. Baldwin Arena.

Sophomore guard Alijah Martin matched his season-high of 26 points as the Owls picked up their sixteenth consecutive victory at home. 

“Just in the zone,” said Martin when asked postgame what spurred his performance. “Everything feeling good. Shot feeling good, game feeling good. Just was in the zone.” 

After the Bulldogs quickly took the lead at tipoff, Martin tied things up at seven apiece with his first three-pointer of the night. 

LA Tech, however, quickly jumped back ahead thanks to a 10-point scoring run that left them ahead 17-7 with 12:30 in the first half.

The Owls’ eventually found their rhythm on offense though. After being held scoreless for the opening 14 minutes, sophomore guard Johnell Davis scored his first basket of the game on a second-chance layup, tying the score again at 26 all. 

“I think we just have a lot of experienced guys,” said junior guard Bryan Greenlee on the Owls’ ability to play from behind. “A lot of guys who have been in situations where we’ve been down. This season, on the road at North Texas, overtime at FIU, we just trust in each other and know someone is going to step up if we play good ball.”

Back-and-forth action ensued in the closing minutes of the first half with the Owls briefly taking a 4-point lead around the two minute mark, but the score remained tied going into halftime at 41 apiece. 

Despite their early struggles on the offensive end, the Owls went into the locker room shooting 46.4% from the field and 33.3% from three-point range. Sophomore center Vladislav Goldin, who was coming off of a 19-point outing against Rice two days before, was the Owls’ leading scorer at halftime with 13 points and four rebounds.

5 unanswered points by the Bulldogs to start the second half gave them back the lead. However, Davis, recovering from his slow start, converted his second three-point play of the afternoon, putting the Owls ahead by one with 15:28 to play. 

Two minutes later, Davis extended that lead to 54-50 on a layup that sent the home crowd into a frenzy as the game went into a media timeout. 

“The crowd always gives us energy and always brings a good environment, and I think we feed off of that,” said Greenlee.

The Owls went right back to work as soon as play resumed, completing a 16-point run in the three minutes after the timeout, which left them ahead 65-50—their largest lead of the night to that point. 

At this point it seemed as though FAU had the game firmly in their grasp; but that’s not how the ending unfolded.

The Bulldogs rallied back in the closing minutes of regulation, shrinking the Owls’ lead to one with a minute to play. Senior guard Michael Forrest extended that lead to three with a heavily-contested layup with 47 seconds in regulation.

However, Bulldogs’ leading scorer, junior guard Cobe Williams, completed a three-point play on the ensuing possession tying the score at 76, and sending the game to overtime. 

“They had found a few holes in our defense, so it was predicated on how we force them to get out of their rhythm offensively,” said head coach Dusty May on the Owls’ gameplan heading into the overtime period. “For us, it was just trying to identify who had the hot hand and who had the right matchup.”

To start the overtime period, the Owls quickly jumped out to a 5-point lead, and never looked back. LA Tech eventually brought that lead down to two, but Martin answered right back with his sixth make from behind the arc on the game, leaving FAU ahead 84-79. 

The Owls drew five trips to the foul line in the final minute of overtime as the Bulldogs attempted to mount a late comeback. The Owls made nine-of-ten free throw attempts in those five trips, sealing their thirteen victory in conference play this season.

FAU will return to action on Thursday, Feb. 16, on the road against the Middle Tennessee State University Blue Raiders (15-10, 8-6 C-USA). Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. and will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network.

Cameron Priester is the Sports Editor for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @PriesterCameron