ODU Ends Four-Game Skid with Dominant Victory over Charlotte 68-52

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Nicholas Clark

Austin Trice #23 goes up for a jump shot against Charlotte.

Benjamin Draper, Sports Editor

The Old Dominion men’s basketball team came into Saturday evening on a four-game losing streak and a 7-12(2-4 C-USA) record. ODU has lost eight of their last ten games and has not won since Jan.13 when they defeated UTSA. Even with the freezing temperatures and snow on the ground, it did not stop the 4600 ODU faithful from showing up to Chartway Arena and showing support for their team. 

Jaylin Hunter #12 goes up for the layup on the fast-break opportunity. (Nicholas Clark)

The ball was tipped and the game was on. Senior Austin Trice opened the night up with an early score in the paint. After a Niners missed shot, senior C.J. Keyser came back down the court and got to the basket for another two points. Trice played a pivotal factor in the paint all game and would score the next five points in the contest to give ODU the early 9-0 advantage. On the ensuing Niners possession, sophomore Mekhi Long would get the steal and would run down court for the fast-break score to make it 11-0.  After almost seven minutes into the matchup, Charlotte would finally get on the board after hitting both free throws at the line. Midway through the half, the Monarchs held a 15-4 lead.

The Niners would get a little rhythm going with a quick four point scoring run before junior A.J. Oliver II drilled a deep 3-pointer at the shot clock buzzer to make it 18-8 ODU. After a missed shot for Charlotte, the Monarchs got back down court and got the ball to Trice again as he went up for another tough layup and got the bucket to extend the Monarch lead to 12. On the next ODU possession, Keyser found an open lane and drove to the bucket for another score that propelled the Monarch’s lead up to 14. The Niners would get back to the free throw line after a foul on ODU and would end the scoring drought with one of two free throws made. Sophomore Jaylin Hunter scored the next four points for ODU after making both free throws and draining a mid-range jump shot. The score stood at 32-12 in ODU’s favor with just under four minutes to go in the half before Charlotte came down court and made a 3-pointer to cut into the Monarch lead. On the next ODU possession, Long would get fouled going up for the bucket, but would make both of his free throws to extend the lead to 18. Charlotte would make two more buckets before the end of the half and the score stood at 35-19 Old Dominion. 

Coming out of the break, Charlotte started the second half with possession and wasted no time getting to the basket for an early score. Junior Kalu Ezikpe was silent for most of the first half, but would get his first points of the evening with a quick jumper that made it 37-21 ODU. On the ensuing Niners possession, Hunter would force the turnover and went down court for an easy fast-break bucket. Charlotte could not get a bucket on their next possession and Keyser would come back up the floor and drain a step-back jump shot that extended the lead to 20 points.

Kalu Ezikpe #22 gets over his defender for his first basket of the evening. (Nicholas Clark)

The Niners got themselves another two points after going to the free throw line and making both shots. Although the lead was substantial, ODU had no intention of letting off the gas as Long would come back and drain another mid-range jumper to make it 43-23. Midway through the second half, Old Dominion held a 50-29 advantage.

With just over eight minutes to go in the game, Keyser would get himself another bucket after drilling a mid-range jump shot. After a Niners missed shot, Oliver got fouled going to the basket and was sent to the free throw line where he drained both shots to make it 54-29. Charlotte would retaliate with another 3-pointer on the evening that cut the Monarch lead to 22. As time was winding down, ODU continued to play their game and would eventually begin to empty their bench late in the contest. It was too little, too late for the Niners as they began to drill shots at the end of the matchup. Old Dominion would go onto winning the game over Charlotte 68-51. From the opening tip-off, the Monarchs never looked back and earned an impressive conference victory.

Old Dominion finished the evening shooting 26-56(46.4 percent) of their shots and shot 1-13(7.7 percent) from beyond the arc. The Monarchs tallied 28 points from inside the paint alone. Trice was the star player for the Monarchs, after finishing the game with a double-double. He tallied 22 points, one block and 10 rebounds. Keyser finished with 16 points, one rebound and two assists. Long also had a double-double himself after scoring 11 points and having 11 rebounds, four steals and three assists. 

In the post-game presser, Head Coach Jeff Jones shared his thoughts on the team’s performance as of late, but feels good getting back into the win column and looks forward to building off this victory. 

C.J. Keyser #25 goes up for a jump shot from the top of the key against Charlotte. (Nicholas Clark )

“It’s been frustrating, it’s been hard on all of us. But the guys have hung in there, they’ve hung together and continued working hard,” Jones stated. “Getting this win is really a good feeling. It’s a load off all of our guys. I hope we can smartly and maturely enjoy this win before we come back on Monday and earn the right to win against Marshall.”

The Monarchs improved their record to 8-12(3-4 C-USA) and will return to action on Thursday, Feb. 3 when they welcome conference-rival Marshall into Norfolk. The Herd are currently sitting at 8-13(1-7 C-USA) on the season.