NORFOLK, Va. -- The Old Dominion Lady Monarchs took care of business on Thursday night at the Ted Constant Convocation Center, defeating North Texas 62-55. The Lady Monarchs improved to 13-16 overall and 9-8 in the league, while the Mean Green fell to 10-17 overall and 5-12 in Conference USA play.
Jennie Simms paced the Lady Monarchs with her fourth 30-plus point outpouring of the season, as she finished with 33 points and seven rebounds. She was two points away from joining the great Anne Donovan as the only women's basketball player to notch four 35-plus outings in one season. Ije Ajemba chipped in eight points and eight rebounds, while Gianna Smith finished with nine points and four boards.
The Mean Green jumped out to an early 9-0 lead over the Lady Monarchs and forced ODU to go 0-for-5 from the floor in the opening 2:30. After an ODU timeout that stretched to the media at the 7:30 mark, the Lady Monarchs improved to 6-of-14 from the floor, which included a three at the buzzer by Simms to pull within three points (20-17) heading into the second period. Simms led the way for ODU with 13 of the Lady Monarchs’ 17 points. North Texas was able to hold the slight lead over ODU behind a 53.3 shooting percentage (8-15) in the opening 10 minutes.
ODU picked up the defensive intensity in the second and held North Texas to a scoring drought of over three minutes, while scoring five points to pull within two (24-22) at the 6:29 mark. An old fashioned three-point play with four minutes until the half from Ajemba gave ODU the lead for the first time (27-26). The Lady Monarchs put together a 6-2 spurt over the final 2:34 to hold the 33-28 advantage over the Mean Green at the intermission.
Simms was on fire in the first half, scoring 18 points in 19 minutes of action. Ajemba also added six points and six boards, helping ODU hold a 20-18 edge on the glass. The Lady Monarchs improved their shooting percentage at 43.3 percent after registering a 31.6 mark in the first quarter.
Old Dominion started to take a little control away from the Mean Green at the start of the third quarter and took a 41-32 lead by the 3:40 mark. The Lady Monarchs forced North Texas into five turnovers and just 1-of-10 shooting over a six-minute span. The Mean Green got four points from Acheil Tac in the final minute of the period, to pull North Texas within seven points heading into the final period.
A jumper by Young at the 9:51 mark in the fourth sparked a quick 6-0 run by the Lady Monarchs to take an 11-point lead (49-38) by the 8:05 mark. The two teams traded baskets over the two minutes, but North Texas put together a 7-4 spurt bring the ODU advantage to five points (55-50) by the 4:03 mark. Simms brought the lead back to seven (59-52) for the Lady Monarchs after corralling her own rebound, drawing the foul and sinking two from the charity stripe with 1:47 left to play.
A costly 10 second back-court violation by Simms on ODU’s next possession gave the Mean Green the chance to sink a three and pull within four (59-55) with one minute remaining. Simms redeemed herself with a steal with 36 seconds on the clock that set up one point from the foul line to go up five (60-55) with 31 seconds left. A missed shot by Tac in the closing seconds forced North Texas to foul Smith and put her on the line. She sunk both shots to ice the game for the Lady Monarchs (62-55).
For the game, ODU shot 40.7 percent from the floor (22-54), while North Texas went 24-for-58 for a 41.74 percentage. The Lady Monarchs held a slight 37-34 advantage on the boards and forced the Mean Green into 16 turnovers that featured 13 ODU steals.
Tac paced North Texas with 16 points and nine rebounds, while Terra Ellison chipped in 14 points and seven boards. Kelsey Criner was the only other player in double-digits with 10 points to go along with her six assists and two steals.
ODU is currently in a tie for fifth place in the conference standings with LA Tech. In order to secure the No. 5 seed for the upcoming tournament, the Lady Monarchs need a win over Rice paired with a LA Tech loss to WKU.
UP NEXT FOR ODU The Lady Monarchs are back in action on Saturday for senior day at the Ted Constant Center against Rice. The contest is set to begin at 1:00 p.m. and will be streamed through Monarch Media and the C-USA Digital Network. The radio broadcast will be housed on STAR 1310 AM, with the show beginning at 12:30 p.m. (ET). Live stats will also be available once the game starts.
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