Lady Monarchs Lead Early and Never Look Back as They Defeat FIU 73-61

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ODU Athletics

Mariah Adams #1 dribbles the ball down court and looks for who’s open.

Art Neal , Assistant Sports Editor

On Monday evening, the Old Dominion women’s basketball team was back home and had another conference matchup with Florida International University.  ODU entered the game 16-5 with a Conference USA record of 6-3 while FIU came in with a 11-9 (3-6 C-USA) record. The Lady Monarchs had previously lost to Western Kentucky on Feb. 5 and were looking to bounce back and defend home court.   

The play commenced with FIU winning the tip-off. Despite winning the tip, the Panthers could not capitalize and ODU jumped  ahead with a 3-pointer by senior Ajah Wayne. The Lady Monarch defense was active early with a block by graduate student Iggy Allen that led to a turnover by FIU and helped ODU score again with a tough post shot by senior Amari Young that brought the score to 5-0. The ODU defense continued with a block by senior Mariah Adams  and another turnover by FIU. The Panthers finally got on the board nearly half way through the first quarter with two foul shots which brought the score to 7-2. FIU would score two more times that tied the game at seven. A mid-range jump shot by Adams would give ODU the lead back 9-8 with two minutes left in the first quarter. Allen would spot up for two consecutive 3-pointers to extend the ODU lead to seven and bring the score to 18-11 with under a minute in the quarter. FIU sank two free throws to end the scoring of the first quarter and ODU led 18-13.

Brianna Jackson #12 looks up at the basket as she attempts a layup. (ODU Athletics)

In the second quarter, ODU opened with a score as junior Brianna Jackson hit a post shot that brought the score to 20-13. The Lady Monarchs continued to dominate in the paint as Wayne spinned and found her way to the basket to increase the lead to eight. On the next ODU  possession, a three from junior Kaye Clark brought the lead into double digits as the Monarchs lead was 25-14.  As the halfway portion of the second quarter was reached, Young continued her campaign in the paint, scoring two consecutive baskets, including a nice mid air put-back shot, which extended the score to 31-18. After a scoring drought from both teams in the last two minutes, Young found space and drained a fade away jumper from the post that gave the Lady Monarch a 35-21 lead going into the half.

Coming out of the locker room for the second half, FIU opened the quarter with an early score in the paint and the and-one opportunity that cut the ODU lead to 11. The Lady Monarchs had their own response on the next possession when Jackson made a tough post shot as the shot clock wound down that brought the lead back to 13. Following this, Young continued her dominant night and scored  twice in transition which gave the Lady Monarch the 15-point lead. Out of a timeout at the halfway mark of the third quarter, FIU made a basket and cut the lead to 47-32. Following the made basket,  FIU pressed again which the Lady Monarchs were ready for as they carved it up again and put freshman Ahmyia Moreland at the foul line. She made one of the two free throws and the score was 48-32. The ODU defense continued to play aggressively in the second half as they forced three more turnovers in the final two minutes of the third quarter. They would go into the final frame up 52-41.

Adams opened the fourth quarter with a steal and fast-break layup that put ODU up by 13. On the next ODU possession, Clark drained a wide open 3-pointer that put the Lady Monarch lead to 57-43. The Panthers came back with a 6-0 scoring run in the next few minutes that brought the ODU lead to eight. The Lady Monarchs were having none of this as a foul shot by Moreland helped motivate ODU in finishing the matchup strong. Multiple Lady Monarchs struck while in transition being led by Allen who took control of the game by stealing the basketball and assisting senior Aziah Hudson for the layup that brought the ODU lead up to 15. FIU responded again with a 5-0 run to bring the Lady Monarch lead to single digits 70-61.  With 53 seconds remaining, Wayne went one of two from the free throw line and sealed the deal for ODU as the Lady Monarchs would go onto winning the game 73-61.  

Ajah Wayne #14 finds room in the corner and goes up for a long jump shot. (ODU Athletics)

The Lady Monarchs were efficient on both sides of the ball on the evening. Despite foul trouble, the Lady Monarch defense dominated, tallying eight blocks, nine steals and 23 turnovers. The ODU defense also held the FIU offense to a 36.4 field goal percentage and 25 percent from beyond the arc. ODU finished the evening shooting 45 percent in field goal and 3-point shots. These numbers put them within their top five most effective games of the season in both categories. Wayne finished the game with 15 points and six rebounds, Young also had 15 points while tallying nine rebounds and two steals. Allen had 14 points, three assists and five rebounds. 

In the post-game presser, head coach Delisha Milton-Jones talked about her team’s performance against a good FIU squad and how this was a good bounce-back game. “We’re very happy about this win and about how we played,” Milton-Jones said. “We redeemed ourselves from the loss at Western Kentucky. I was so glad to see us get out and play an up-tempo style. FIU forces you to do that because they run and press, but we really played well on the break.”

With this win, the Lady Monarchs move to 17-5 (7-3 C-USA). They will be back at home on Thursday, Feb. 10 when they welcome a tough Middle Tennessee State team. The Blue Raiders are 16-4 (8-2 C-USA) and are in second place of the east division while ODU is in fourth. Tip-Off is scheduled for 6:30p.m.