Monarchs Drop Rivalry Matchup against VCU 75-66

Photo Courtesy of Nicholas Clark, taken from ODU v VCU

By Benjamin Draper, Sports Editor

Originally published December 14, 2021.


The Old Dominion’s men’s basketball team welcomed their in-state rival Virginia Commonwealth University into Norfolk for another edition of the ‘Interstate Rivalry’. The Monarchs came into the contest at a 5-5 record while the Rams came in with a 5-4 record. VCU leads the all-time series 52-44 and have won the last two matchups in the series.


About eight thousand fans and students were in attendance as the rivalry matchup was back in town. The game was underway and Jaylin Hunter sank a jump shot for the Monarchs and gave ODU the early 2-0 advantage. Both teams would go up and down the court, trading blows and the game stood tied at 10. ODU would go on a six point run to extend their lead to 16-10, but the Rams would counter with a 3-pointer of their own to cut the game to 16-13. That didn’t faze the Monarch offense as it went on another 8-0 scoring run that increased their lead to 24-13.


Old Dominion got off to a good start and held an 11-point lead, 24-13, after a layup and free throw from senior C.J. Keyser midway through the first half. The Rams would come back with a 3- pointer of their own. Junior Austin Trice extended the ODU lead and made it 26-16 on a fast-break layup. The Monarchs started to lose their rhythm and did not score any points for four minutes and the Rams took advantage and scored eight unanswered points to cut the game to 26-24.


Freshman D’Angelo Stines ended the scoring drought with a layup that put the Monarchs up 28-24. Keyser scored the next three points with a free throw and jump shot and the lead stood at 31-25. In the final minutes of the half, senior Austin Trice would get two layups and extend the Monarch lead to six points. ODU went into the half with a 37-31 lead. Turning the ball over played a big factor in the half with VCU having nine turnovers while ODU had six.


Coming out of the half, the Rams took control of the game in the first few minutes of the second half with four turnovers and regained the lead 40-38 from another three-point shot. The game would go back and forth as both teams played physically and competitively, the game could go either way. The crowd was loud and into the game and played a factor in home court advantage.


Trice brought the arena to its feet with a one-handed dunk over the VCU defenders that gave the Monarchs the lead 51-50. After the play, he was assessed a technical for taunting. The Rams got two free throws and possession of the ball for the call, but would only make one of the free throws to tie the game at 51. Junior Kalu Ezikpe put the Monarchs back on top with a layup on the next possession. Both teams went back and forth and the game stood at 59-57 in favor of VCU.

It was a tight game, but the Rams started to pull away in the final six minutes of the game when Vince Williams hit a 3-pointer to extend the VCU lead to 62-57 with 5:42 to go. VCU Guard Marcus Tsohonis would make two 3-pointers to extend the lead to 70-62 with 3:05 left. The Monarchs could not keep up in the late minutes and fell to VCU 75-66. The Rams outscored ODU 16-9 in the final minutes of the game to seal the victory. Old Dominion is now 5-6 in the regular season.


Trice had one of his best performances on the court in a Monarchs uniform as he dropped 16 points, had eight rebounds and two blocked shots. Keyser finished the night with 14 points, Ezikpe had 11 and Long had ten points. Stines came off the bench and put up nine points.


In the post-game presser, Head Coach Jeff Jones expressed that his team was competitive, but they didn’t play well enough physically and to focus more on winning the game. “We could not have played any harder.” Jones said. “They were tougher than us. We need to humble ourselves a little bit and do the things that win games that aren’t going to be in any headlines.”


Next up for the Monarchs is a trip to Richmond, VA to play the Richmond Spiders on Sunday, Dec. 19. ODU returns home to host Charlestown University on Wednesday, Dec 22. It will be the last non-conference matchup of the season with conference play around the corner.