Monarchs Basketball Roll Past Maryland Eastern in Season Opener 84-65

Basketball season is officially in swing. The Monarch men’s basketball team had their home opener on Monday night at 7 p.m. as they took on the Hawks of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. This game signals multiple beginnings for Jeff Jones and company. Eight new faces can be seen on the ODU roster this year. In addition, this will be the Monarch’s inaugural season in the Sun Belt conference for basketball. In this new conference, the Monarchs look to improve upon their 2021-22 record of 13-19, 8-10 C-USA.

Junior Mekhi Long looks on as the play develops. (Elena Harris )


The first half opened with the Monarchs winning the tip and getting Senior Ben Stanley, a forward who spent time at Xavier and Hampton, involved. He contributed 10 of the Monarchs’ 17 points through the first seven minutes of play. The Hawks had a counter to Stanley, as they were hot from three, draining a handful from beyond the arch to keep the score within reach through the first ten minutes of play. A promising sight throughout the early minutes of the game was the Monarchs pressing on made baskets, which yielded some errant passes by the Hawks. 

In the latter ten minutes of the first half, the ODU lead began to grow as senior guard Tyreek Scott-Grayson scored on two consecutive trips down the court. This put Scott-Grayson in double digits and brought ODU to lead 31-24 with 6:50 remaining. Despite quality three-point shooting, the Hawks struggled with fouls, putting ODU in the double bonus. The closing minutes of the half was relatively uneventful. ODU and UMES both scored once more, making the score 40-33 at the half, despite great defense by sophomore guard D’Angelo Stines on one of UMES’s final possessions. 

At the half, the Monarchs led in field goal percentage, having made exactly half of their shots. However, the Hawks were still making a strong case from three as they shot 46% (6-13) in comparison to the Monarch’s 22% (2-9). Another promising statistic was the sharing of wealth as three starters scored 10+ in the first 20 minutes. Stanley led all scorers with 12, while Scott-Grayson had 11 and junior forward Mehki Long tallied 10 points and 4 rebounds.

Sophomore Chaunce Jenkins goes up for the mid-range jump shot. (Elena Harris )

The second half of play favored the Monarchs. A scramble on the floor in the opening minute led to a dunk by junior forward Dericko Williams, bringing the lead to nine at 42-33. The Hawks fought to prevent the Monarchs from running away with the game since the ODU lead hovered right around ten, but it was in vain. Long dominated in the second half, tallying 15 of his 25 points in the second half and helping to secure a 10-0 ODU run around the halfway mark of the second half. The closing ten minutes of play were foul-heavy. For the second time that day, ODU found themselves in the double bonus while simultaneously flirting with putting Maryland Eastern Shore in the double bonus, having accrued nine fouls. Luckily for the Monarchs, their lead at this point was large enough that this was not a pressing issue. Despite the choppy play due to foul shots, the Monarch offense was still alive and well. Junior guard Charles Smith IV showed his sharpshooting abilities, draining two threes in his seven minutes of play. In addition, Stanley tallied a 20-point performance on the night, capping it off from the charity stripe. Long also tied a bow on his career performance, with 25 points, 10 rebounds and 10-10 from the stripe, as well as a dunk with 53.8 seconds remaining on the clock. Following this and a block by Scott-Grayson, Jones gave his reserves some playing time to close out the game, making the final score 84-65. 

At the end of 40 minutes of play, the Monarchs tallied the most points since their 86-78 win over William and Mary in the 2020-21 season opener.

The Monarchs’ bench comes out of their seats as the three-pointer goes up. (Elena Harris)

Jones also commented on the upcoming competition with Drexel, stating, “We’re not favored, and I like that. We were picked to finish ninth in the Sun Belt (out of 14 teams) and while we don’t dwell on that, we’re aware of it. I want our guy’s son opener. The Monarchs also dominated the boards as they out-rebounded the Hawks 44-23 in addition to outshooting Maryland Eastern Shore 50.0% vs 39.6%. 

When asked about the opener and what is to come, head coach Jeff Jones commented, “I was pleased. This was a step forward. We have so far to go. We’ve just started. But I liked what I saw tonight. We were able to get the ball out (on the fast break) and make good passes.”

to play with a chip on their shoulder.”

ODU will travel to Philadelphia this coming Friday to compete against Drexel before coming back home to take on another 757 opponent, Virginia Wesleyan, on Monday, Nov. 14.