Monarchs Rebound with 64-58 Victory over Georgia Southern


Keith Lucas, ODU Athletics

Sophomore guard Chaunce Jenkins pulls up from beyond the arc.

By Art Neal, Associate Sports Editor

After coming off a frustrating loss to in-state rival James Madison on Thursday, the Monarchs looked to put a game in the win column against the Georgia Southern Eagles on Saturday night with a gritty 64-58 victory. ODU’s record entering the contest was 13-10 (Sun Belt) while the Eagles shared the same conference record at 12-12 overall. 

This game held special significance because the Monarchs got to wear their Hudson Blue alternate uniforms and many Alumni and health professionals were in attendance since it was both health professionals night and the Alumni game. 

The first half started out a little slow for ODU as Georgia Southern jumped to an 11-4 lead almost five minutes into the game. This lead continued to haunt the Monarchs throughout the first half, but they clawed their way to a tie at halftime.

Junior guard Mekhi Long finds space and gets past his defender to pursue the basket. (Keith Lucas, ODU Athletics)

The Monarchs brought the game to 11-9 with 13:30 remaining before the Eagles rattled off three straight from beyond the arc, bringing the contest to 20-11 with just under nine minutes left. Georgia Southern continued to maintain this lead and even grew it to ten at 25-15 with 5:20 remaining. At this point in the game, a switch flipped among the Monarchs and they stepped up on both ends of the court. 

On the ensuing defensive possession, ODU fended the Eagles to a single foul shot within the last three minutes as they turned the opposition on multiple occasions. A steal and score by sophomore guard Chauncey Jenkins put the Monarchs within one at 29-28 with 50 seconds left. Sophomore forward Fazion Fields was able to tie the game at the charity stripe at 30, all with 20 seconds to go. The final offensive possession of the half came from the Eagles, but stout defense by ODU stopped them from regaining the lead and gave the Monarchs tremendous momentum moving into the locker rooms. 

The second half belonged to the Monarchs, who carried over the momentum and improved their quality of play. Junior forward Dericko Williams opened the second half scoring for both sides as he sank two from the charity stripe, making the score 32-30. Georgia Southern responded to this with a three, bringing the score to 33-32. 

Unfortunately for the Eagles, they got in some foul trouble. Multiple starters had three, and a forward off the bench had to be subbed out because of his fourth foul. This did not go unnoticed by the team in Hudson Blue, who grew their lead with a 6-0 run in the middle portions of the half, helping to bring the lead to nine at 50-41 with 9:20 remaining.

Senior guard Tyreek-Scott Grayson goes up for the jump shot. (Keith Lucas, ODU Athletics )

The Eagles responded to this push from the same place they had all night: the three-point line. Georgia Southern rattled off two straight threes to bring the score to 50-47 with a sizable chunk of time on the clock. The Eagles then brought it within two with another three at 56-54 with 6:00 remaining. 

There was a scoring drought on both sides as the Eagles tried to take the lead and the Monarchs fought to stay on top. Williams broke this spell when he got a bucket in the paint, putting the lead at four with 2:26 remaining. 

The Monarchs were immaculate from the line within the last two minutes and closed out the game with a win by six at 64-58.

If you asked Coach Jeff Jones, there was still room for improvement in the Monarchs’ game that evening, but they were dominant at the free throw line. In this contest, the team took 28 FTs and made 26 of them by putting the ball in the hoop at a 93% clip.

Scoring was led by Jenkins, who tallied 14 points and made all four of his FTs in the last two minutes; followed by Mehki Long, who tallied a double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds. Another performance of note was by Fields, who added 12 points and eight rebounds with the division between offensive and defensive rebounds being half. Fields also went an immaculate 6-6 from the charity stripe as well.

Coach Jeff Jones praised his team’s ability to fight when he stated, “I’m not sure why, but there was a flip that got switched there in the first half and we looked like a different basketball team. We started flying around and scrambling and went into attack mode rather than playing back on our heels.”

Sophomore forward Faizon Fields uses his size for the tough layup. (Keith Lucas, ODU Athletics )

Jones also had much praise for his forward Mehki Long, who not only tallied a double-double with 13 points and twelve rebounds, his fourth consecutive but also held Georgia Southern’s Russian big man Andrei Savrasov at bay as he shot 3-13 from the field and 1-6 from three. 

“Mekhi is our heart and soul,” Jones said. “He’s the guy who’s out there competing for every single possession.”

This win was much needed as ODU looks to close the season with four games on the road. They will come back home to play Southern Miss (21-4) and Marshall (19-6). These teams sit at first and third respectively in the Sun Belt conference rankings and will provide a challenge to close out the season and look for postseason play.