ODU Comes Up Just Short Against UTEP, 70-64
EL PASO, Texas -- Despite a valiant fourth quarter comeback from Old Dominion, the Lady Monarchs fell to Conference USA’s top team, UTEP, on the road by a 70-64 margin on Thursday night at the Don Haskins Center. The Lady Monarchs fell to 12-15 overall and 8-7 in Conference USA and sit in sixth place alone in the league standings. The Miners improved to 24-2 overall and 15-1 in C-USA after the win.
“We left it all out on the court,” said head coach Karen Barefoot. “We played with so much heart tonight and we had a chance to steal it from them. If you look at the stat sheet everyone contributed in a positive way. Look at Destinee Young, 17 rebounds and 17 points. Everybody played as hard as they could, but the difference tonight were the turnovers. It took us awhile to get in the grove and execute the game plan, but when we did we played well and we played together as a team. The second half we adjusted to the pace of the game and the atmosphere and battled back from 14-down to almost steal a game from the top team in C-USA. We are going to learn from the negatives and the positives from tonight and get ready for UTSA on Saturday.”
Destinee Young led Old Dominion with 17 points and a career-high 17 rebounds, while Jennie Simms pitched in 14 points and eight rebounds. Gianna Smith was the only other Lady Monarch in double-figures with 13 points, while Ije Ajemba added six points and 10 rebounds for ODU.
The two teams traded baskets over the three minutes of the game, but Cameasha Turner sparked an 8-2 spurt for the Miners with back-to-back three pointers to give UTEP the 12-6 edge at the first media timeout of the contest. The Lady Monarchs came out of the gates a little slower than usual, finishing 2-for-8 in the opening six minutes. Simms led ODU with seven of the Lady Monarchs’ 11 points, as the first quarter ended with Old Dominion down nine points (20-11) to the UTEP Miners.
Keyana Brown opened the second quarter with a driving score to spark an 8-2 ODU run, capped by two free-throws from Smith, to pull the Lady Monarchs within three points by the 6:16 mark. The Miners responded with a 6-0 run, including two off of an ODU turnover, forcing the Lady Monarchs to call a 30-second timeout with 3:27 left until halftime. UTEP slowly started to pull away the rest of the half and help a 10 point (35-25) advantage at the intermission.
Despite shooting a cold 24 percent (7-29) and turning the ball over nine times, the Lady Monarchs hung in with the conference’s top team by crashing the boards and scoring 13 second chance points. ODU held a 27-19 advantage on the boards, including a 15-11 mark on the offensive end. Simms and Young led the team with a combined 16 points and 13 rebounds for the Lady Monarchs in the first half.
With 6:08 left in the third quarter, the Lady Monarchs cut the lead back to single digits (31-39) after Young executed perfectly on a reverse layup. UTEP responded with a quick 4-0 run to pull ahead by 14, but Young once again silenced the crown with a jumper from the top of the key. The Lady Monarchs kept fighting and with the help from Smith with ODU’s first three of the game and an old-fashioned three-point play from Annika Holopainen, Old Dominion entered the fourth quarter down just seven points (44-52). ODU closed the period with a 9-3 run after going 4-for-5 from the field.
The Miners started pressing the Lady Monarchs to start the fourth quarter and forced ODU into two quick turnovers, while going on a 5-0 run to once again pull ahead by double-digits with 8:19 remaining in the game (57-44). Down 11 points with 5:07 left in the game, the Lady Monarchs kept attacking the UTEP defense and pulled within five points (63-58) with 3:30 left in the game. ODU got six straight points from the foul line during that time since the Miners recorded their fifth team foul with 6:25 on the clock in the fourth.
A jumper by Ajemba just outside the paint with 2:07 on the clock brought ODU within four points, but on the next play Simms suffered her fifth foul and put UTEP back on the free-throw line. Turner made 1-of-2, giving ODU the chance to pull within one possession (65-62) after Young made two from the charity stripe with 48 seconds left in the game.
Old Dominion was forced to foul to stop the clock and put Starr Breedlove on the line with 22 seconds on the clock. She made both, but Rhaven Kemp came down the court and drove past her defender for a quick two. ODU trailed UTEP, 67-64, with 14 seconds left and fouled Tamara Seda, the Miners worst foul shooter on the floor at the time. She connected on one shot, however, Kemp missed a layup, giving the Miners the ball back. ODU once again fouled, as Breedlove made two more from the lane to secure the 70-64 victory.
For the game, ODU shot 34.5 percent from the floor (19-55), while UTEP went 26-for-70 for a 37.1 field goal percentage. The Lady Monarchs did control the boards and held a 46-39 advantage over the Miners.
Turner led the Miners with 18 points and eight rebounds, while Breedlove added 16 points and four boards. Sparkle Taylor also chipped in 14 points and two boards.
UP NEXT FOR ODU
The Lady Monarchs are back in action on Saturday against the UTSA Roadrunners at 3:00 p.m. (ET). The game will be streamed through goutsa.com and the C-USA Digital Network. The radio broadcast will be housed on ESPN 94.1, with the show beginning at 2:30 p.m. (ET). Live stats will also be available once the game starts.
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