Men’s Basketball: Owls cruise on their way to C-USA championship

On Saturday, the FAU Owls won their first C-USA Tournament Championship, dominating the UAB Blazers 78-56 and securing a bid to the NCAA Tournament.


Nicholas Windfelder

Head coach Dusty May and the FAU men’s basketball team after wining the C-USA regular season championship on Feb. 25, 2023.

Zachary Watts, Staff Writer

FRISCO, Texas – The stage was set following a narrow victory over the Middle Tennessee State University Blue Raiders Friday night in the semifinal round. The FAU Owls (31-3, 18-2 C-USA)  were matched up with conference rival, the University of Alabama at Birmingham Blazers, with whom they had split the season series. 

Despite being 1-point underdogs, the Owls dominated, cruising to their first C-USA Championship in program history in a 78-56 victory.

This team is a group of givers,” said head coach Dusty May. “They don’t take, they serve every day. Their work capacity and work ethic is unmatched.” 

Both teams opened up the game on a mission, exchanging baskets back and forth, setting the stage for an exciting finish. 

The Owls caught a groove early on, thanks in part to the dynamic guard combo of sophomore guards Johnell Davis and Alijah Martin. The two combined for 27 points in the first half, helping FAU to a 46-27 lead. 

FAU kept the Blazers in check through the first half of the game thanks to a dominant defensive effort as well. They out-rebounded the Blazers 27-15 and held them to 29% shooting from the field and 15% from beyond the arc. 

The Owls got some help in part to some foul trouble from the Blazers’ big men. Both frontcourt starters picked up two fouls, which allowed FAU to focus on UAB’s primary scorer Jordan “Jelly” Walker. 

Holding Walker to 10 points at the half helped create a large enough lead to give the Owls the edge coming out of the break. 

Following his strong first-half performance, Martin had one of the highlights of the night coming out of halftime. His two-handed putback dunk immediately claimed the momentum and fired up the crowd a minute into the second half. 

From then on, the Owls didn’t look back and their lead never shrunk below double digits. Outstanding scoring from the paint allowed the Owls to outscore the Blazers 42-18 from inside the paint. The Owls also continued to dominate the glass, ending the game with a rebound margin of 47-30. 

As time expired, the Owls cemented one of the best seasons in program history: a 31-3 record overall, undefeated at home, and a conference championship. All that was capped off by the 22-point victory over the Blazers, punching their ticket to the big dance. 

Martin not only earned himself MVP honors with his 30-point, 11-rebound performance, but he also earned MVP of the tournament to cap off a historic run for the Owls. 

FAU’s win tonight came similarly to the other games they played throughout the tournament, dominant from start to finish.

This season, the journey we have been on, there have been so many games night after night that have felt like a tournament game with a ticket to the dance on the line, because of the pressure and magnitude of those games,” said May. “I was amazed how the pressure never phased these guys, and once we got in between the lines, they just hooped.”

FAU punched their ticket to March Madness and now awaits seeding on selection Sunday. Despite the dominant tournament performance, the Owls still have much to prove with the big dance looming. 

Their seeding will be revealed on CBS’ Selection Sunday broadcast, which will begin at 6 p.m. The bracket reveal will also be streamed on and the March Madness Live app.

Zachary Watts is a staff writer for the University Press. For more information regarding this or other stories email [email protected] or tweet him at @ZachWatts1_