Monarchs Win Fourth Straight Game, Defeating Drexel 65-58 in CAA Opener
By ODU Athletics
Jan. 3, 2004
NORFOLK, VA - Senior Forward John Waller's (Richmond, VA) 16 points helped lead the Old Dominion men's basketball team to their fourth straight victory Saturday afternoon, defeating the Drexel Dragons 65-58 in the Colonial Athletic Association opener for both teams. The Monarchs win their CAA opener for the first time since the 1996-97 season. Arnaud Dahi (Ivory Coast, Africa) contributed 13 points, six rebounds, and four blocked shots in the Monarch effort, as ODU improves to 6-4 for the season, 1-0 in CAA play. The Monarchs are two games over .500 for the first time since Jan. 14, 2002, when ODU held a 9-7 record. Drexel drops to 5-5 for the season and 0-1 in the CAA.
The Monarchs trailed Drexel 4-3 in the opening minute of play before going on a 6-0 run, led by Alex Loughton's (Perth, Australia) two lay-ups, to grab a 9-4 edge with 17:25 left in the half. Tim Whitworth ended the Monarch run when he connected on a three-pointer for the Dragons at the 17:10 mark of the half to cut the ODU lead to 9-7. Drexel would go nearly four minutes before scoring their next point, a Jeremiah King free throw, which cut ODU's lead to five points, 13-8. By the 8:42 mark of the half, the Old Dominion lead increased to 10 points, 18-8, off a Troy Nance (Virginia Beach, VA) three-pointer and John Waller lay-up. With the Monarchs holding onto their largest lead of the half, 21-10, with 7:21 remaining in the half, Drexel got back into the game by scoring 10 straight points, led by Jeremiah King's four, to cut the Monarch lead to just one point, 21-20 by the 2:13 mark. Arnaud Dahi's layup seconds later ended the run and put ODU back up 23-20. The Dragons then scored four unanswered points to grab a 24-23 lead-their first lead since the opening minute of the half-with 49 seconds left to play. T.J. Waldon's (Lakeland, FL) layup with 32 seconds left in the half put the Monarchs up 25-24, going into the half.
Arnaud Dahi opened up the scoring for the Monarchs in the second half, connecting on a layup just 11 seconds in, to give ODU the 27-24 lead. The Monarchs were still up, 34-33, with 15:30 remaining in the game, before Phil Goss scored a three-pointer for the Dragons to give Drexel the 36-33 lead at the 14:55 mark. John Waller made good on a layup at the 13:49 mark to tie the game up at 36, but by the 12:39 mark, Drexel once again held a narrow 39-38 lead. Isaiah Hunter (Charlotte, NC) drove to the basket moments later, connecting on a layup and drawing the foul, setting up the three-point opportunity. Hunter was good on the free throw to give the Monarchs a 42-38 lead with 11:14 left in the game. ODU extended their lead to nine points, 49-40, by the 8:26 mark, after Hunter added another layup and a couple of free throws, but the Dragons cut the lead down to four points, 53-49, by the 4:57 mark of the half. John Waller connected on a three-pointer with 4:32 left in the game to increase ODU's lead to 56-49, before Drexel went on a 5-0 run to cut the deficit to just two points, 56-54, at the 2:21 mark of the half. The Monarchs held a seven-point, 61-54 at the 45 second mark, lead, capped by Kiah Thomas' (Norfolk, VA) three-pointer, but with 31 seconds remaining in the game, Drexel cut the lead to just three points, 61-58 after Phil Goss made a lay-up following a Dragon steal. A pair of free throws by Kiah Thomas and Drew Williamson (Burlington, NC) ended the game, with ODU taking the 65-58 victory. ODU has now won four straight games for the first time since the 1998-99 season, when the Monarchs went 25-9 overall, and 10-6 in conference play.
Old Dominion out-shot Drexel 38.3% (23 of 60) to 29.4% (20 of 68) from the field during the game, while the Monarchs connected on 40% of their three-pointers (6 of 15) to the Dragons' 26.3% (5 of 19). Despite being out-rebounded by a 49-45 margin, the Monarchs had four fewer turnovers (19-15). Continuing a trend, ODU had 18 assists on their 23 baskets during the game. John Waller led all Monarch scorers during the game with 16, followed by Arnaud Dahi's 13. Drexel had four double-figure scorers, led by Phil Goss' 12. Sean Brooks, Tim Whitworth and Jeremiah King all had 10 points for the Dragons. The Monarchs next travel to George Mason Wednesday, January 7, at 7:00 PM as ODU continues conference play.
Head Coach: James "Bruiser" Flint "Tough game, tough game. We fought and I thought we played great defense. We had the opportunity playing at 29% but we just didn't come through."
"They stepped up and made free throw shots and we were playing catch-up."
(On the game's physicality) "We are so undersized, we just get crushed in a physical game like that."
(On Kiah Thomas) "That was a big shot in the game. We knew he could hit that shot and he did."
Head Coach: Blaine Taylor "Got to love the action. A lot of intensity, scrappy basketball. We have the utmost respect for Drexel, the players, and their coaches. They have a great defensive team."
"We had great contributors. Isaiah's (Hunter) nine rebounds were big and so were Arnaud's (Dahi) rebounds and blocks. It was a big CAA game and we are happy with the win."
"Kiah (Thomas) made a big basket and everyone was pretty confident in his shot. His defense was just as important; he made some great decisions."
"We are a man defensive team. We have the ability to pressure. Holding Drexel to 29% is the best we have done this year and that's the story of the game. We made a lot of positive plays."
Senior Forward, John Waller "With conference play, a lot of teams know your plays and it makes it more difficult to run your stuff. It's great to have a player like Arnuad (Dahi) to protect our basket."
Sophomore Forward, Alex Loughton "We have experienced very strong players and we expected that tonight. We take it as it comes."
Junior Forward, Kiah Thomas "Just be ready. I was calling for him (Isaiah Hunter). I just let the game happen and made it a point to be ready. Isaiah came off a good screen that Alex (Loughton) set and he saw me. I made it a point that my time off the court was going to be used to the good and when my number was called, I would be ready."