Monarchs Basketball Bounce back with 72-58 Victory over Virginia Wesleyan

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Elena Harris

Junior Dericko Williams lets out a roar after throwing down the slam dunk.

Art Neal , Associate Sports Editor

The ODU men’s basketball team squared off against a local 757 opponent on their second home game of the year against Virginia Wesleyan University on Monday night at 7 p.m. The Monarchs came into this contest seeking to avenge a loss to Drexel 71-59 this past Friday night. Head coach Jeff Jones and company’s record stood at 1-1 while 0-0 in the Sun Belt. In comparison, the VWU Marlins had a record of 3-1 and having not played a game yet in their conference, the ODAC. 

Senior Tyreek-Scott Grayson keeps his posture after putting up the three-ball. (Elena Harris )

In the early minutes of the first half, it was frustrating as both ODU and VWU did not shoot well. The Monarch were finally able to gain a lead with a three-pointer from junior guard Charles Smith IV, putting the Monarchs ahead 13-9 with 12:08 remaining in the half. The Monarchs were able to grow this lead even more as sophomore forward Fazion Fields tipped an offensive rebound to sophomore guard Chaunce Jenkins, who drove into the paint and got to the free-throw line. This foul, VWU’s seventh, put the Monarchs in the bonus, which was helpful in building their lead in the first half.

Following this, the Monarchs went on a 19-4 run, which helped them garner a 15-point lead, ending half at36-21. This run was spearheaded by Jenkins, who had seven points and a highlight reel block that led to a transition bucket on the other end by junior forward Dericko Williams. 

With a comfortable lead at the half, the Monarchs continued to dominate. Senior guard Tyreek Scott-Grayson opened the second half scoring as he went 2/2 from the free throw line and put the Monarch lead at 38-21. The Monarchs continued to get the ball out in transition well as Jenkins continued to be proactive, having a block that led to a Smith IV transition bucket and a monster dunk. 

Following this, the Marlins made a push to bring the game back in close. They made a three to pull within 11 at 49-38 and then pulled within ten at 53-43 with under seven minutes to go. They pulled within ten twice more at 62-52 and 68-58 but could not get over that final hurdle. 

The Marlins continued to fight until the closing seconds of the game but were unable to succeed. This was due in part to senior forward Ben Stanley, who came off the bench and had some much-needed buckets down the stretch to seal the deal for the Monarchs. 

Both teams struggle with fouls throughout the night. Not only did the Marlins have two players foul out, but they also put the Monarchs in the bonus in both halves. The Monarchs were more fortunate as they gave way to fouls only in the second half, putting VWU in the bonus with just under six minutes remaining. 

ODU’s offense on the evening was evenly distributed as four players were in double figures. Scott-Grayson led all scorers with 15 points, eight rebounds, and a trifecta of blocks. Jenkins added 11 points and nine rebounds, one short of a double-double. Other players with 10+ were Williams with 11 and seven and Stanley, who made a strong case off the bench scoring 14 on 5-8 shooting. Junior forward Mehki Long did not shoot especially well throughout the evening, but did make his presence known as he pulled down a team-leading 12 rebounds and dished out four assists.

Senior Ben Stanley makes his presence felt with the powerful two-handed jam. (Elena Harris )

When asked about the performance from his team, Head Coach Jeff Jones talked about how the guys on the court need to see eye to eye and play smarter in order to win games. “I can’t fault the effort, but we have to be smart,” Jones stated. “We can’t do things to beat ourselves. We need five guys out there on the same page.”

The Monarchs will turn up the competition as they head down to Charleston later in the week for the Shriners Children’s Charleston Classic, where they will face off against reigning ACC champs Virginia Tech on Thursday at 2 p.m. This game will be the Monarchs’ first nationally televised game of the season. The Monarchs will have the potential to square off against Big Ten talent as they will face the winner of Penn State vs. Furman on Friday.