BOCA RATON, Fla. (AP) Alijah Martin scored 20 points and Vlad Goldin added 18 points and seven rebounds as No. 13 Florida Atlantic cruised past Liberty 83-58 on Thursday night in the opening game of the Field of 68 Tipoff Classic.

The Owls extended a 15-point halftime lead to 29 in the second period and handed Liberty (6-1) its first loss of the season.

Playing at home for the first time since its Nov. 18 upset loss to Bryant, FAU (6-1) overcame a sluggish shooting start by pounding the ball inside - where Liberty had no answer for Goldin and Martin. The duo combined for 24 of the team's 44 first-half points, with only one field goal - Martin's 3-pointer - coming outside the lane.

“I thought we took advantage of the right matchups,” FAU coach Dusty May said. “I thought we took advantage of the right spacing."

The Owls' first six field goals came in the paint. FAU didn’t drain an outside shot until more than eight minutes in, when Bryan Greenlee’s 3-pointer found its target.

Having found their range, the points came in bunches. Brandon Weatherspoon’s 3-pointer, the Owls' second in a 45-second span, gave FAU its first double-digit lead, 26-15, with a little more than seven minutes remaining in the first half.

All 18 of FAU’s first-half field goals either came in the paint or from beyond the 3-point arc. Florida Atlantic ultimately connected on more than half its field goal attempts, including 7 of 14 from behind the arc.

Even before its offense started rolling, FAU’s defense stifled Liberty, limiting leading scorer Kyle Rode to six points on 2-of-11 shooting - the worst shooting performance of his career.

“They are one team that can penalize you on the offensive end and match up with you on the defensive end,” Liberty coach Ritchie McKay said.

FAU once again showcased its deep bench, as eight Owls played at least 12 minutes. Johnell Davis, their second-leading scorer, didn’t connect on any of his seven shots, sinking only two free throws on the night.

“I think these guys appreciate and value winning - and they do it together,” May said.

A late 17-2 run by FAU removed all suspense from the final minutes.

Colin Porter paced Liberty with 16 points.


Liberty: The Flames entered as the lone FBS school with undefeated football and basketball teams. ... Kaden Metheny had 10 points and five rebounds. ... The Flames shot only 57% from the free-throw line.

Florida Atlantic: Starting point guard Nick Boyd missed his third consecutive game with a leg injury. It’s possible he could return Saturday against Charleston, but next Tuesday vs. No. 24 Illinois at Madison Square Garden seems more likely.


Liberty: Will face Charleston on Friday night at Florida Atlantic University in the second game of the Field of 68 tournament.

Florida Atlantic: Will host Charleston on Saturday night in the tournament finale in Boca Raton.


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