Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Men’s Basketball: Owls down Virginia Tech in ESPN Invitational Championship

Alijah Martin was named Most Valuable Player of the tournament as FAU defeated Virginia Tech 84-50 on Sunday afternoon.
Courtesy of FAU Athletics
Senior guard Bryan Greenlee driving past a defender against Virginia Tech on November 26, 2023.

The #19 Florida Atlantic Owls (5-1) men’s basketball team added another trophy to the case on Sunday afternoon after defeating the Virginia Tech University Hokies (5-2) 84-50 on Sunday in the ESPN Invitational Championship.

“We studied their defense and we came in with a great game plan. We took what they gave us and we attacked their defense,” said junior guard Alijah Martin. 

Junior center guard Vlad Goldin opened the game with two quick points under the basket to get the Owls on the board.

Good ball movement by FAU allowed Martin a second chance put-back to put the Owls up five.

The Owls and Hokies battled back and forth for the next few minutes before junior guard Brandon Weatherspoon put a damper on Virginia Tech’s momentum with a corner three. 

A foul by senior guard Bryan Greenlee put Hokies graduate guard Hunter Catoor at the line. He made all three, cutting the Owls’ lead to two before Weatherspoon responded with his second three of the game. 

Junior guard Johnell Davis made his first three-pointer of the game with barely two minutes remaining in the first half, giving the Owls a breather and extending their lead to four. It seemed like the seas had parted as Martin came blazing, slamming it down with 1:08 left up six, 30-24.

FAU went on a 7-0 run to close out the first half, leading 32-24. Goldin led the team with eight points at the intermission.

The Owls opened up the second half strong with a three from Davis and then on the other end, Goldin denied Virginia Tech sophomore guard MJ Collins at the rim. Back-to-back baskets made by Martin and Goldin extended the Owls’ lead by 16. 

The first basket of the second half for the Hokies would come from senior center Lynn Kidd, ending FAU’s 19-0 run. 

“We were very concise on every possession of how capable they are from behind the three-point line, their range, their movement. Our guys took it as a personal challenge to take away the three-point line, the free throw line,” said head coach Dusty May. “We did a great job of both.”

Virginia Tech slowly started chipping away at FAU’s 20-point lead, but Greenlee’s three-point play and Martin’s three-ball slowed their momentum.

The Owls would take complete control of the game after Davis made a layup, extending their lead to 24 with 8:20 left in regulation. Back-to-back three-pointers from Martin and senior guard Jalen Gaffney put the dagger in Virginia Tech’s hope of making a comeback. 

The largest lead of the second half came with 51 seconds left after junior forward Isaiah Gaines made a jumper in the paint, scoring 84-46.

The Owls shot 56.9% from the field and 40.9% from behind the arc. Martin led the team with 17 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists on his way to being named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.

“I thank my teammates for always having faith in me and the coaching staff as well. I was in a slump earlier and it feels good going into the last couple of games with my mojo back,” said Martin. 

FAU will return home to face Liberty University (6-0) on Thursday, Nov. 30, at 6 p.m. at the Eleanor R. Baldwin Arena. The game will stream on ESPNU.

Gianna Alberti is a staff writer at the University Press. Email her at [email protected] or @giannaalbertii on Instagram for information regarding this or other stories.

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