Back to Home Cooking – FAU dominates Liberty in Wire to Wire victory

By Robbie Lastella

#13 FAU got back to what they do best and that is winning at home. The Owls dominated from the opening tip & continued it through the final whistle, defeating Liberty 83-58.

After the game Coach Dusty May spoke on the victory.

“Extremely proud of the way we handled recent success in Orlando at Disney. I thought our guys had a great mindset in preparation for Liberty and that’s not difficult to do because of the respect we have for their program. We were so happy with our defensive performance tonight and then you look at the stat sheet and we’re able to shoot the percentages we shot and take what the game gives them,” Coach May said. 

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The building started off rocking as FAU held Liberty to a shot clock violation on their first possession of the game.  

FAU was able to win the paint battle early on, with Alijah Martin grabbing an offensive board and scoring on it. Vlad Goldin was able to find success working on the big man Kyle Rode, backing him down into the paint for 2 early buckets and getting a block on the other end. 

After the game Coach May talked about Martins ability to extend possessions for the Owls through offensive rebounds. 

“The biggest impact he (Alijah) had were the loose basketballs and the extra possessions. It alleviates the stress of having to make shots and having to do anything great on the offensive end,” Coach May said. 

Liberty was able to find some success off the bench early with Shiloh Robinson adding 5 early points for the Flames. 

The paint success was the name of the game early for the Owls with 12 out of the teams first 13 points coming in the rim. Bryan Greenlee’s 3 with 11:52 to go was the teams first basket outside of the paint and put the Owls up 16-10. 

Liberty was not letting FAU pull away early as they fought hard for an offensive board which resulted in a triple for Kaden Metheny. On the following possession Joseph Venzant slammed one home, cutting the deficit to one possession- 18-15 with 9:29 to go in the first half.

FAU was quick to answer- triples from Lorient and Weatherspoon, and an emphatic dunk from Vlad put the Owls up 26-15 and forced Flames coach Ritchie McKay to call a timeout with 7:09 to play in the first half. 

Liberty was unable to grab ahold of momentum. The teams traded misses before Alijah Martin stole it away from the Flames and went coast to coast for a layup to go up 28-15 with 6:29 to play. 

Following that, FAU was able to hold a double digit lead for the remainder of the first half. The Owls were helped with a 7-2 stretch out of the 4 minute media timeout, which gave them their largest lead of the day to that point- 40-21 with 2:11 to go. 

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Liberty followed that up with 6 straight points of their own, Martin answered again for the Owls putting them up 42-27 shortly before half. On the Owls last possession of the half FAU was battling in the paint once again, resulting in a foul and a trip to the line for Jalen Gaffney- he converted on both, putting the Owls up 44-27 going into the half. 

The second half started out with both teams trading baskets and FAU looking to continue their strong paint performance from the first half. Goldin scored down low & drew a foul on an entry pass and Johnell Davis got to the line and converted- putting FAU up 48-31 with 17:27 to play in the game. 

Out of the 16 minute media timeout, Liberty was able to cut into the deficit a bit. The Flames were helped by back to back triples from Rode and Metheny and the lead was cut to 55-41 with 13:25 to play.

The Owls were once again quick to respond, with Alijah Martin and Bryan Greenlee hitting back to back triples to put the Owls up 62-43 with 10:49 to play. 

Liberty was able to fight back as following a missed pair of free throws from Bryan Greenlee, Liberty got a 1 and 1 opportunity and converted both. This capped off a 6-0 run for the flames and cut the lead to 62-48 with 8:53 to play. 

Vlad ended that run with 4 straight made free throws and FAU took a 66-48 lead with 7:23 to go in the game. FAU was helped by a few steals on the defensive end to hold Liberty to 2 points over a 3 minute stretch and capped off a solid run with an Alijah Martin top of the key triple to put the Owls up 73-50 with 4:59 to play. 

After the game, Coach May talked about the importance of those free throws from Vlad.

“We’re proud of him for getting those possessions around the rim finishing through contact and getting to the line if he makes them he makes them if he misses them we got to try to find different ways. Everything we do we try not to be outcome based but it’s obviously a luxury when you can increase your margin because Vlad is going to be able to get to the free throw line a lot,” Coach May said. 

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Liberty was able to catch a bit of a flame towards the end, rattling off 5 straight points to cut the lead to 79-55 with 2:37 to play, but that would be just about it for the Flames. FAU was able to close strong with the reserves on the court, closing out an 83-58 home victory to move to 6-1 on the season. 

A dominating paint performance for FAU. After the game Coach May talked about the paint performance being a team effort. 

“We have so many weapons and they differ to each other because they want to win. It was obvious what Vlad was able to do, but let’s not discredit BJ, Alijah, Gaffney, I thought they all got to the rim repeatedly and was very efficient finishing around the basket,” Coach May said.

FAU will have an off day before facing Charleston on Saturday in the final game of the Field of 68 tip-off classic. 

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