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Hunter Drops 23 to Lead ODU to 78-75 Win Over VCU

Courtesy: ODU Athletics
         
Release: January 14, 2006
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Jan. 14, 2006

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NORFOLK, VA-- Senior guard Isaiah Hunter scored a season-high 23 points on Saturday to lead Old Dominion to a thrilling 78-75 conference win over VCU in front of a sell out crowd of 8,424 at the Ted Constant Center. With the victory, the Monarchs improved to 13-4 (6-1 CAA) and remain in first place in the conference standings, while VCU drops to 10-5 (4-3). Senior forward Alex Loughton (Perth,Australia) chipped in with 19 points, six rebounds, and four assists.

ODU jumped out to an early 13-6 lead, but the Rams would charge back in a period that featured four ties and four lead changes. The contest went into halftime with the Monarchs holding a narrow 32-32 advantage over their intrastate rivals.

VCU would regain the lead for the final time with 17:15 remaining in the second half as a Nick George trey put the Rams ahead 38-36. Old Dominion would immediately respond with an 11-0 spurt that spanned the next 3:11 of play. The run began with an Isaiah Hunter traditional three-point play, and also featured treys from sophomore guard Abdi Lidonde (Sutton, MA) and Loughton.

Just as VCU was about to mount a threat following the ODU run, the Monarchs would keep them at bay as a Brian Henderson (Richmond, VA) three-pointer put the Monarchs ahead 55-45 with 9:52 on the clock, and another Henderson trey gave ODU their largest lead of the day, 60-48, with 8:33 left to go.

A thunderous dunk delivered by Loughton put ODU up 62-51 at the 7:25 mark, but Jamal Shuler led a quick strike 11-0 VCU run by nailing two three-pointers and a layup as the Rams tied the score at 62-62 with 4:25 left in regulation.

Junior forward Arnaud Dahi (Ivory Coast, Africa) capitalized on two chances from the charity stripe with 2:40 left to play, and Hunter would nail his third trey of the day to give the Monarchs a 69-64 advantage with a 1:36 left in the second half.

ODU got sent to the line 12 times in the last 1:05 of clock remaining, and they would connect on 9 of those attempts. A furious VCU last minute rally, again led by the three-point marksmanship of Shuler who drilled two deep treys in a fifteen second span, gave the Rams a final chance to tie the game and send it into overtime. The ball was inbounded to George who failed to connect on the buzzer beating three pointer.

For the game, the Monarchs shot 42.9% from the field, and took a staggering 35 free-throw attempts compared to VCU's 15. ODU would connect on 80.0% of their foul shots for the game. The Monarchs won the turnover battle, 14-11, and also outrebounded the Rams by a narrow 32-31 margin. ODU defeated Virginia Commonwealth for the third consecutive game, including last season's overtime CAA Championship game.

Hunter scored eight of his 23 points in the final 1:36 minutes of action, as he delivered on five of six free throw attempts. Junior guard Drew Williamson (Burlington, NC) dished out six assists and also pulled down five boards.

Nick George scored a season-high 27 points and also pulled down nine rebounds in a strong performance for VCU. Sophomore Jamal Shuler netted 19 points, and drained an impressive 5-6 from three-point land.

The Monarchs return to the hardwood on Thursday night as they host Hofstra at the Ted Constant Center. Tip-off is slated for 7:00 p.m. ODU will be looking to avenge last season's home court loss to the Pride, which was Old Dominion's only loss on their home floor last year.

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