FAU finishes strong, defeats VT in finals of ESPN Invitational

By Robbie Lastella

FAU 84 – Virginia Tech 50


FAU did not leave anything in doubt during the Championship matchup of the ESPN Invitational. The Owls dominated the Virginia Tech Hokies in a wire to wire 84-50 victory.

After the game Coach Dusty May gave his thoughts on how the Owls improved from the Bryant loss to this performance.

“We looked a little bit out of rhythm and then we looked afraid to fail. And then we looked like we had a bunch of really good players who’s intentions were correct, they wanted to put their team on their back so we got away from doing it together and simply taking what the game gives you over 70 possessions,” Coach May said. 

The Owls played team basketball in tonight’s dominating win. In a first half where either team struggled to extend their lead, FAU did not have a dominating scorer, instead having multiple players contribute to the first half effort.

Strong efforts from the FAU big men, Vlad with 8 & Rosado with 5 along with a strong 8-0 run to end the first half gave FAU their biggest lead of the day to that point, 32-24 going into the half. 

The second half started out with a bang for FAU with Alijah Martin and Johnell Davis both hitting 3 point shots to begin the half and extend the lead to 38-24 with 18:05 to play. After the game, Alijah gave his thoughts on what the team has focused on to improve so fast for this finals matchup.

“Just taking the game more seriously… not coming in just lollygagging through practice and realizing that teams like Bryant are going to have a great game against us. We learned how to attack that when we’re in a funk and we know how to react to in a certain way,” Martin said. 

The Owls attacked indeed in the second half. The Owls  defense stymied the Hokies, not allowing them to score for the first 4 minutes of the half and extending the FAU lead to 44-26 with 16:08 to play. 

After the game, Coach May gave his thoughts on the Owls strong defensive effort and what may have led to that.  

“We were very conscious of every possession; of how capable they are from behind the 3 point line, their range, their movement, so our guys took it as a personal challenge to take away the 3 point line, keep them off the free throw line, and overall we did a great job with both. They did get a couple looks in the first half that were clean and open but when you switch and get them out of their system a little bit they are not as comfortable because their system is so good,” Coach May said. 


FAU disrupted the Hokies offense continually throughout the second half never allowing them to get back into the game. The Owls had a strong team effort both defensively and offensively as everybody continued to contribute. The Owls stretched their lead to 61-39 with 9 minutes to play on a 3 pointer from Bryan Greenlee. 

After the game Alijah Martin gave credit to the coaching staff on why the team was able to be successful offensively as a whole. 

“Our coaching staff getting us ready and prepared you know we studied their defense and we came into with a great game plan,” Martin said 

FAU stretched their lead to 34 on a jam from Brenen Lorient to go up 75-41 with 4:57 to play. The Owls continued to put on an offensive showcase and the Hokies struggled to get the lid off of the basket. 

Tre Carroll was able to give a strong contribution once again, closing out the game on the court for the Owls and scoring 6 out of the last 8 points for FAU over the final 5 minutes.

FAU closed the door on a resounding 34 point victory, helped by everybody who stepped on the court. The Owls finished with 4 players in double figures and 2 players who had 9 & 7, so no matter who touched the ball it was leading to success for the Owls on offense. 

FAU’s leading scorer ended up being Alijah Martin who finished with 19 and continued to play strong, following an injury plagued stretch to start the season. 

After the game, Coach May talked about how important it is for the Owls to defeat 2 power conference teams early in the season and what led to that.

“If you take the historical part it means a lot. But when you look at our squad we expected to come here and win. I know that when I looked down at our bench and when we had what we thought was going to be 3 out of our top 6 out the first night. Then I look the other direction and we have 3 first team all league caliber potential players that play offense that share the ball and then we have guys like Jalen Gaffney just waits in the wings and takes over the game and BJ greenlee and Giancarlo Rosado and you go on and on down our roster,” May said. 

It was a dominating effort from the Owls during the ESPN invitational, surprising everyone but themselves once again during this stretch and leaving momentum soaring sky high. 

FAU will have a few days off before hosting Liberty on Thursday, November 30th in their second straight tournament, this time hosting The Field of 68 classic in Boca Raton.