Monarchs Strike Another Upset This Week With 71-67 Victory Over No. 1 Seed Marshall


Elena Harris

Junior guard Mekhi Long slams down the alley-oop dunk thanks to a lob from sophomore guard Chaunce Jenkins.

By Benjamin Draper, Sports Editor

It has been a pivotal week for Old Dominion men’s basketball 19-11 (11-7 Sun Belt) as they returned home for their final two regular-season matchups. On Wednesday, the Monarchs upset the No. 1 seeded Southern Miss Golden Eagles 69-64. ODU then set their sights on the newly appointed No. 1 seed, Marshall, and tallied 43 second-half points to strike another upset against the Herd 71-67. 

ODU players Mekhi Long #0, Chaunce Jenkins #2, and Derricko Williams #23 look on as they wait for the Marshall inbound. (Elena Harris )

In front of an exuberant crowd of 6,400, both teams took the court. The Herd scored the first three points in the game. After a minute, junior forward Derricko Williams put ODU on the board with his layup. The Herd retaliated with a three-pointer to make it 6-2 early on. Sophomore guard Chaunce Jenkins struck back with a layup of his own to cut the deficit to two. After another Marshall basket, the Monarchs went on a 6-0 scoring run to take their first lead of 10-8. 

It was a back-and-forth affair between both teams as the game got into the later stages of the first half, with Marshall in front 25-21. Jenkins found an opening and drove the paint once again for another layup, but the Herd created some separation in the game with a quick 5-0 scoring run to maintain a 30-23 lead. Thanks to a Jenkins steal, junior guard Mekhi Long went up for the slam dunk off the fastbreak with the foul called. Long made the free throw and the game was 30-26. On the next ODU possession, sophomore forward Faizon Fields got up for the layup, but Marshall tallied five more points to take a 35-28 advantage into halftime. 

Coming out of the break, Marshall tallied the first points of the half with a successful jump shot. Jenkins brought the game within six points with his three-pointer, but the Herd got the inbound upcourt quickly and sank their jump shot, extending it to 39-31. Jenkins was feeling himself and drained another three-pointer, cutting the lead to five. Marshall returned the favor with a three of their own after a few possessions of play. Senior guard Tyreek Scott-Grayson found a lane and got the layup to cut the lead to 42-36. 

Sophomore guard Imo Essien finds his teammate Long for the inbounds pass. (Elena Harris )

As the Herd led 45-38, the Monarchs found new life in themselves after a pep talk from Jones in the ODU timeout. In the next few minutes of the contest, Old Dominion went on a 10-2 scoring run thanks to a jump shot and a three-pointer from sophomore guard Charles Smith IV, a three-pointer from sophomore guard Imo Essien, and a layup from Fields to regain the 48-47 lead. Fields then got a steal off the ensuing Herd possession and assisted Long for the easy basket to extend the lead to three. The Monarchs would never surrender that lead for the rest of the evening. 

As the Herd began to go cold over several minutes of the second half, Old Dominion took advantage, leading 65-59 after a layup made from Scott-Grayson. Long brought a big roar out of the crowd with his fastbreak dunk that made the score 68-61 with 1:52 left to play. 

Marshall made things interesting late in the game as they scored the next six points at the free-throw line with 33 seconds left. Jenkins received the inbound and was immediately fouled. He made both free throws, extending the lead to 70-67. On the ensuing Herd possession, Essien picked off the Marshall pass and was then fouled with seven seconds in the contest. He made 1-2 of his free throws, but the last-ditch three for Marshall did not go down and ODU was victorious. Chartway Arena was rocking throughout with the chant of “ODU, ODU, ODU.”

Jenkins led the way for the Monarchs with 23 points, six rebounds, and four assists. He was followed by Scott-Grayson, who tallied 13 points and five rebounds. Long finished the night with nine points and 13 rebounds, while Essien and Fields added 15 points as well. 

With last night’s victory, head coach Jeff Jones earned his 200th win at Old Dominion and reached 557 wins overall. Along with that, Southern Miss earned the regular-season Sun Belt Conference championship thanks to the Monarchs’ victory.

Head coach Jeff Jones gives a pep talk to his star-player, Chaunce Jenkins in the ODU timeout (Elena Harris )

In the postgame presser, Jones shared a message to the team during the game that propelled them to victory. When asked about accomplishing his 200th victory as a Monarch, Jones kept it simple. 

“The sun’s going to come up tomorrow and I’m still going to love you and be proud of you. Let’s just go out and play. Let’s not worry about things. Let’s just play. Fortunately for us, we had a bunch of guys who did exactly that,” Jones stated. It means if we win next Thursday that would be 201.”

Next up for Old Dominion is the Sun Belt Conference tournament in Pensacola, Florida. The Monarchs earned the No. 6 seed in the tournament and will be playing on Thursday at 6 p.m. against the winner of the Georgia State and Texas State matchup. That game will take place on Tuesday evening in the first round. The road for March Madness lies upon winning the conference championship and Old Dominion has found its groove at the right time with their two victories over the top two teams in the Sun Belt, riding the momentum into postseason play.