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Florida Atlantic justifies ranking with win over Western Kentucky

Florida Atlantic Owls head coach Dusty May coaches from the sideline in the second half. The Florida Gators men  s basketball team hosted the Florida Atlantic Owls at Billy Donovan Court at Exactech Arena in Gainesville, FL on Monday, November 14, 2022. Florida Atlantic defeated Florida 76-74.  [Doug Engle/Gainesville Sun]

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Credit: Doug Engle / USA TODAY NETWORK

After earning its first-ever Associated Press Top 25 ranking in program history, No. 24 Florida Atlantic continued to show why it was deserving with a 76-62 victory over host Western Kentucky on Monday at Bowling Green, Ky.

Nick Boyd had 16 points, Alijah Martin added 15 points and five rebounds for the Owls (17-1, 7-0), won their school-record 16th straight game and remained Conference USA’s lone unbeaten team in league play.

Johnell Davis chipped in 14 points and six rebounds and Vladislav Goldin chipped in eight points and a team-high seven rebounds for Florida Atlantic.

The Owls shot 23 of 53 (43.3 percent) from the field, including 11 of 28 (39.3 percent) from 3-point range. Florida Atlantic outrebounded the Hilltoppers 43-25.

Western Kentucky (11-7, 3-4), which ended a three-game winning streak, was led by Dayvion McKnight, who had team-high 15 points and nine rebounds. Jordan Rawls added 13 points and four assists, while Luke Frampton added 11 points.

The Hilltoppers shot 22 of 54 (40.7 percent) from the field, including 9 of 22 (40.9 percent) from beyond the arc.

After Western Kentucky tied the game at 48 following Jamarion Sharp’s dunk with 15:04 remaining, the Owls countered with a decisive, 21-7 run to put the game away by taking a 69-55 advantage following Boyd’s layup with 6:11 to go.

Boyd’s three-point play pushed the Owls’ lead to 74-57 with 4:05 to play.

After Western Kentucky took a 26-18 lead with 5:28 left in the first half, the Owls closed on a 16-7 run to take a 34-33 halftime advantage.

Boyd scored nine points and Bryan Greenlee and Martin added six apiece in the first 20 minutes for Florida Atlantic, which shot just 9 of 27 (33.3 percent) from the field before the break, including 6 of 18 (33.3 percent) from beyond the arc.

Western Kentucky was led by Frampton’s 11 first-half points, while Rawls added seven.

The Hilltoppers shot 12 of 30 (40 percent) from the field prior to halftime, including a red-hot 6 of 12 (50 percent) from distance.

–Field Level Media