Lady Monarchs Close Non-Conference Slate With A 59-67 Loss To Rutgers

January 31, 2003
By ODU Athletics
ODU Sports

Jan. 31, 2003

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NORFOLK, VA -- Junior guard Max Nhassengo (Maputo, Mozambique) captured her first career double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds, but the Rutgers Scarlet Knights walked away with a 59-67 victory over the Old Dominion women's basketball team this evening in the final non-conference game for both teams.

The Lady Monarchs fall to 10-7 on the year and close out its non-conference slate with a 3-7 record. Rutgers was the eighth opponent this season Old Dominion faced that was either ranked or receiving votes in the national polls. The Scarlet Knight ended its non-conference slate 7-3 and improved to 12-6 on the year.

The Scarlet Knights dictated the offense in the early minutes of the game, racing out to a 6-0 lead within a minute of the opening whistle. A three-pointer by sophomore Cappie Pondexter pushed the Rutgers lead to seven, 4-11, but the Lady Monarchs would chip away at the Scarlet Knight advantage until a Howard jumper gave Old Dominion its first lead of the game, 18-17, at the 11:51 mark. Howard's two points sparked a 9-2 run as the Lady Monarchs took a game-high six-point lead, 25-19, with 8:42 remaining in the opening half.

Rutgers held Old Dominion in check the next two and half minutes and tied the game at 25-25. From there it was a back and forth battle on the scoreboard in to the final minutes of the half with three ties and four lead changes before the Scarlet Knight entered the half with a 33-31 edge.

The Virginia Beach natives, Okeisha Howard and Shareese Grant, scored 21 of the Lady Monarchs' 31 points in the first half. Combined, the duo shot 8-of-12 from the field and were 3-for-4 from the line. Rutgers' Pondexter scored 20 points accounting for 60 percent of the Scarlet Knight offense in the opening stanza, hitting eight of the team's 14 shots from the field.

The Lady Monarchs kept Pondexter scoreless for nearly 16 minutes in the second half as she finished the game with 28 points, one shy of her career-high.

Old Dominion took control quickly in the second half, going on a 4-0 run to take a 36-33 lead with 17:29 remaining. From that point the game would turn into a sea-saw battle with neither team able to go up more than three points. A lay-up by Nhassengo gave the Lady Monarchs its last look at the lead with 6:08 on the clock, 47-46, before Rutgers make an 8-1 run to regain the lead for good. Pondexter, who finally netted her first basket of the half, gave the visitors a six-point advantage, 49-55 with just over four minutes left.

Rutgers shot a perfect 100 percent (12-of-12) from the line during the final two minutes to seal the game. Old Dominion did not shoot well from the charity stripe, making only 11-of-22 (50 percent) for the game.

Old Dominion shot 46.9 percent from the field, its fourth straight game connecting on 45 percent or better from the floor. Rutgers, who shot 50 percent in the first stanza, only shot 30% in the second and ended the game at a 39.7 percent clip.

Both teams grabbed 35 rebounds. Rutgers held Old Dominion to just nine offensive boards on the night.

Grant led all Lady Monarch scorers with 19 points, while Howard chipped in 17. Nhassengo was the other Old Dominion play in double figures with 12. Rutgers had four in double digits, led by Pondexter's 28. Senior Mauri Horton, sophomore Chelsea Newton, and junior Dawn McCullouch each recorded 10 points.

The Lady Monarchs will be home again on Sunday to host CAA rival Delaware at 2:00 p.m. in a battle for first place in the Colonial Athletic Association. The Blue Hens are currently second in the conference, boasting a 7-1 CAA record.