ODU Men’s Basketball Steamroll Past Manhattan 79-58

Photo Courtesy of Nicholas Clark, taken from ODU v Manhattan

By Jalen Hannah, Associate Sports Editor

Originally published November 17, 2021.


Basketball season at Old Dominion University is kicking into full gear. The Monarchs returned home to host the Manhattan Jaspers on Monday evening in an entertaining game that had the Monarch crowd rocking all night long. This was ODU’s third game of the season and they came into Monday with a 1-1 record. They opened the year with a dominant performance against Virginia Wesleyan and lost a close one on the road against James Madison last weekend. This set up a potential bounce back game against a Manhattan team which had been rather impressive thus far, coming into the game without a loss on their record. ODU wanted to be the first to change that, but it was gonna take 40 minutes of effort and energy to get the job done.


Things didn’t start out so well for the Monarchs as sloppy play from his starting unit caused Head Coach Jeff Jones to pull three of his starters out the game only three minutes into the contest. This was an early message from Coach Jones to his players, stating that they were gonna need a lot more than what they were showing if they wanted to get a win. Jones called a timeout to reinforce some will into his team after they found themselves trailing very early 7-2. Shortly after the team started to show the energy he was looking for after an and-one basket from sophomore Mekhi Long began to swing the momentum in favor of the home team.


Later in the first half, while having a five point advantage, Manhattan was forced to call a timeout. The energy of the crowd was giving too much momentum to the Monarchs who were clearly starting to show who the better team was. ODU struggled in the first half, but it wasn’t because of the way Manhattan was playing them. It was mainly due to the fact that ODU just wasn’t hitting any shots. The Monarchs shot 33.4% from the field in the first half, hitting only 13 of their 33 shots. Poor shooting from ODU, along with a good game plan from Manhattan to possess the ball allowed Manhattan to stay in the game during the first half. The Jaspers were able to hold the lead for 15 minutes of the 20 minute half. Despite this, ODU was able to build momentum late in the half thanks to the likes of sophomore Jaylin Hunter, junior Kalu Ezikpe, and senior Austin Trice. They all came up huge for the Monarchs down the stretch and went into the halftime with a 35-30 lead.


Coming out of the break, ODU made their adjustments and came out with a better game plan than what they had in the first half. It was clear that at halftime they decided they weren’t going to beat themselves anymore. Manhattan was hanging around due to the mistakes made from Old Dominion on both sides of the court. They came out revamped to begin the second half and extended their lead up to nine. Manhattan got called for a charge early in the half which quickly showed that the Monarchs were now very much in control of the game. Soon after that, senior C.J. Keyser threw down an emphatic dunk that brought the Monarch crowd to their feet and the atmosphere was electric. A timeout was immediately called from the Manhattan bench, but that didn’t stop the celebration as Keyser walked down the court full of energy calling for Monarch fans and students to get pumped up. The rest of the players on the court followed him to pump up the crowd, highlighted by senior A.J. Oliver blowing kisses to the crowd. From this point on ODU would dominate the rest of the way.


The Monarchs offense improved their poor shooting drastically in the second half by hitting on 66.7% of their shots compared to the 39.4% in the first half. This brought them up to 50.9% from the field for the whole game. A lot of players for the Monarchs contributed in a big way including Hunter, who was named player of the game. He finished the night with 18 points, six assists and three steals. Ezikpe also played a good game himself with 15 points and four blocks. He got the appreciation of Coach Jones after the game, saying he was the one player that played at a high level. “We weren’t in attack mode, we were taking the first shot available and the ball wasn’t moving. If it weren’t for Kalu out there, he was the one guy for us who played at a high level and kind of kept us in it, blocking shots and working really hard,” Jones stated. Trice also played a factor in the game coming off the bench and putting up 18 points. Old Dominion would defeat the Jaspers 78-59.


The win over Manhattan gives the Monarchs their second win of the season and improves their record to 2-1. Next for ODU will be a trip down to Conway, South Carolina for the Myrtle Beach Invitational at Coastal Carolina University. ODU meets Indiana State on Thursday Nov. 18 at 9:30 p.m. in the first of three games in four days for the Monarchs. ODU will either meet Oklahoma or East Carolina on Friday Nov. 19. On Sunday Nov. 21, the Monarchs will face one of the four teams in the other bracket: Davidson, New Mexico State, Penn or Utah State. The tournament will be televised on an ESPN outlet.