First Half Surge Lifts Monarchs Past Marshall 79-64

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Elena Harris

ODU’s #22 Kalu Ezikpe powers his way up for the basket.

Benjamin Draper, Sports Editor

The Old Dominion men’s basketball team was back in action on Thursday night when they welcomed conference-rival Marshall into Norfolk. The Monarchs were coming into the game off a win over Charlotte last weekend and stood at 8-12(3-4 C-USA). Marshall came into the game at 8-13(1-7 C-USA). Over 4300 were in attendance to watch the conference matchup.

#23 Austin Trice finds a way to get up over both of his defenders for the layup (Elena Harris)

As both teams broke from their huddles and stepped out onto the court with ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ blaring throughout Chartway Arena, it was time for the game to tip-off. Marshall would win the opening tip and not hesitate, as they went down court and got the early bucket for the 2-0 lead. The Monarchs came back and senior Austin Trice would go up for a layup to tie the game. On the next possession, the Herd would find their man in the corner for a 3-pointer and regain the lead. Trice would get the ball again and power his way up for another layup from under the rim to trim the lead down to one. On the ensuing possession, the Herd would turn the ball over and it led to a powerful Trice dunk to give the Monarchs their first lead of the evening. After a Marshall miss, the ODU offense got back down the floor and found junior Kalu Ezikpe at the top of the key for another bucket. Both teams traded blows on the next possessions as the game stood at 11-11.

The next seven and a half minutes were crucial in the Monarchs favor as they would surge out to a big lead. Sophomore Jaylin Hunter started the scoring-run with a layup that gave ODU the 13-11 lead. Off a Marshall turnover, sophomore Charles Smith IV got open beyond the arc and drained a 3-pointer. The Herd were not able to hit their shot and ODU found Ezikpe for another bucket to give ODU the seven point advantage. The Monarchs would make two free throws and after another Marshall miss, the ODU offense found Hunter open for another 3-pointer that brought the game to 23-11. Sophomore Mekhi Long would get a bucket to extend the ODU lead. The Herd still couldn’t find a way to sink a shot and the Monarchs took over that eventually led to a Keyer 3-pointer that got it up to 28-11. The game would get up to 30-11 before Marshall was able to end the scoring drought with a 3-pointer of their own. ODU would not let its feet off the gas as they continued to score and Marshall was able to make more buckets down the stretch, but the game went into halftime with the Monarchs leading handily 50-28. 

#25 C.J. Keyser finds space and puts up a 3-pointer from beyond the arc. (Elena Harris)

Coming out of the break, the Herd got down the floor and drained a 3-pointer for the early score. After a few minutes go by, Marshall would get another 3-pointer as the Monarch lead was down to 16. The game stood at 51-36 before Keyser would sink another shot from beyond the arc that brought the lead back to 18. After a Marshall miss, Ezikpe would get fouled on the ensuing Monarch possession and made both free throws to make it a 20 point advantage. The Herd would retaliate with a mid-range jumper. Keyser would take matters into his own hands and find a lane in the paint and get up for another bucket that made it 58-38. The starting five for the Monarchs continued to find ways to score and kept the game at bay. Old Dominion would go on to winning the conference matchup 79-64 and get a much needed win at home. 

Keyser finished the evening as the leading scorer for Old Dominion with 19 points as Ezikpe was right behind him at 18. Trice finished with his sixth double-double of the season after tallying 17 points, 18 rebounds and four assists. Long ended the night with five points, four steals and 13 rebounds which is a career high. Hunter finished with seven points and nine assists.

In the post-game presser, head coach Jeff Jones mentioned that this is a big win for the team. He also noted how strong his team came out from the get-go and how they adjusted early on. “Just a terrific win for our club,” Jones said. “We got off on a great run tonight with a bunch of the guys coming out ready to go. Once we tightened up defensively, we continued scoring at a high rate and shut them down for a stretch.”

The Monarchs have won back-to-back games and improved their record to 9-12(4-4 C-USA). They are now tied with Charlotte for third place in the east division of Conference USA. They look to go for three-straight victories when they are back at home on Saturday evening to host the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers 11-11(3-6 C-USA) in what is deemed as a ‘whiteout’ game.