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No. 13 Florida Atlantic, led by Martin’s 20 points, cruises and hands Liberty its first loss of the season

BOCA RATON — 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.

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.

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

Colin Porter paced Liberty with 15 points.


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.


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

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