Lady Monarchs Come Up Short in Overtime Against James Madison 73-68


Elena Harris

Senior guard Amari Young gets up and tries to sink the floater over her defender.

By Benjamin Draper, Sports Editor

Two of the best teams in the Sun Belt Conference–the Old Dominion Lady Monarchs at 19-10 (11-5 Sun Belt) and the James Madison Dukes at 22-6 (12-4 Sun Belt)–battled on (Saturday, Feb 18) in front of over 3300 energetic fans. It was the largest crowd in attendance to watch another installment of the Royal Rivalry series since the Education day game earlier in the season, which boasted 6,000 spectators. 

Senior guard Taleah Washington goes up for the contested shot while maintaining any balance she has. (Elena Harris )

Although senior guard Amari Young gave everything she had in the tank with 23 points and 13 rebounds –– including the clutch jump shot that sent the game to overtime –– the Lady Monarchs fell short to the Dukes 73-68. As a result, ODU now finds themselves in a three-way tie for third place in the Sun Belt with Texas State and Southern Miss. If they had won, they would have been on top of the conference with the University of Troy. 

As both teams took the court for tip-off, Young opened the afternoon with six successful shots, giving ODU their first 12 points of the game so that they led the Dukes 12-9. On the ensuing drive, JMU struck back with a three-pointer of their own to tie the score at 12. Graduate forward Jatyjia Jones took it upon herself to score the next seven points for the Lady Monarchs, draining a three-pointer and a mid-range jump shot to give ODU the 17-14 advantage. Off the inbound, the Dukes got down the court and sank another three to tie the game at 17, but Jones drove into the paint and got the layup to regain the ODU lead as the first quarter came to a close. 

Early on in the second quarter, James Madison went on a nine-point scoring run to get back out front 26-20. Senior guard Taleah Washington put an end to the ODU drought by nailing a shot from beyond the arc, but the Dukes remained hot offensively and scored on their next two possessions to maintain their 30-23 lead. Washington got into the paint on the next ODU possession after the steal and scored the basket, cutting the deficit to five, but that wasn’t all from the Lady Monarchs. Sophomore forward Brenda Fontana got herself a bucket to cut the lead to three, but Young tied the game up at 30 after a free throw and layup. The Dukes got a free throwback to regain the 31-30 advantage, but senior guard Kaye Clark ended the half with a huge three, giving ODU the 33-31 at the break. 

Coming out of the break, the Dukes struck first to tie the game at 33. Senior forward Brianna Jackson got into the paint and secured the bucket as well as a free throw, putting ODU in front. JMU scored the next four points in the quarter to gain the 37-36 advantage, but Jackson got another layup to give the Lady Monarchs the lead again as the game went back and forth. James Madison maintained a 44-42 advantage as the third quarter came to a close. 

Junior center Jada Duckett has some space and tries to throw up the layup over her Dukes’ defender. (Elena Harris )

Young got things started in the final frame with a layup, tying the game at 44. After a made Dukes bucket, Washington sank another three-pointer to put the Lady Monarch back out front 47-46. Washington then drained another three to put ODU up 50-46 with eight minutes to play. Over the next few minutes of the fourth, both teams battled up and down the court. JMU started to make shots and had a 57-53 advantage with three minutes to play. Young made a pair of free throws to cut the deficit to two, but it was junior center Jada Duckett who tied the game at 57 with a layup. 

Unfortunately for ODU, senior Dukes guard Kiki Jefferson, who led the team with 30 points already, drained another bucket over Young’s head, giving JMU the 59-57 lead with 21 seconds left. Coming out of a timeout, ODU dialed up a plan for Clark to drive straight to the basket to tie the game back at 59. Off the inbound, the Dukes got up the floor and found a basket with 5.2 seconds to play, which resulted in another ODU timeout. Lady Monarchs head coach DeLisha Milton-Jones schemed up a play that put the ball in Young’s hands. As the inbound got to her, she went up for the mid-range jump shot and after a few bounces off the top of the rim, the ball went into the net, and it was tied once again. An elated arena was on their feet cheering for the Lady Monarchs as the game went into OT. 

ODU came out of the gate with a quick start in the first few minutes of overtime. Jackson made a layup and the and-one opportunity to put them up 64-61, and after another three free throws made by Amari and junior guard Jordan McLaughlin, the Lady Monarchs had the 67-61 advantage. After that, it was as if the team went cold for the rest of the matchup, and the Dukes took advantage of it. They scored the next four points in OT before Jada added another free throw to the Monarchs 68-65 lead, but JMU went on a eight-point scoring run to secure the victory over Old Dominion. 

The Lady Monarchs bench erupts off the bench after the three-point shot went down. (Elena Harris )

After the game, Milton-Jones shared her thoughts on the enthusiastic environment that filled Chartway Arena, while acknowledging that James Madison was the better team and did not make as many mistakes as ODU did. Milton-Jones got emotional when it came to speaking about Amari Young and her importance to ODU women’s basketball.

“I thought the environment today was spectacular. It was a hard-fought game by both teams. JMU got the best of us tonight, but I feel like we gifted them by making 25 turnovers,” Milton-Jones said. “Amari is so special in so many ways. We wouldn’t be where we are if it wasn’t for Ms. Young doing what she does every day when the lights are on and when they are off. She has been such a blessing for everyone in our program. This stings a little because we wanted the ending to be different because Amari deserves that, but at the end of the day, she’s a winner and will forever be one and I’m so proud of her.”

Next up for the Lady Monarchs is a pair of road trip matchups this week against Marshall on Wednesday with a 6 p.m. tip-off. They will end the regular season on Friday night when they travel down to Coastal Carolina, where tip-off is slated for 6 p.m. as well. Ending the season on a high note is pivotal for ODU as they battle for one of the top four spots in the Sun Belt Conference tournament. The top four teams receive a double bye into the quarterfinal of the tournament. The 2023 Sun Belt Conference Championship is set for Feb. 28 through March 6 at the Pensacola Bay Center in Pensacola, Florida.