ODU Heads to Tournament Semifinals With 57-54 Win Over Charlotte
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- The Old Dominion Lady Monarchs advanced to the Conference USA Women’s Basketball Tournament semifinals for the second straight year after defeating Charlotte, 57-54, on Thursday afternoon at Bartow Arena. After the third win of the season over the 49ers, ODU improved 16-16 overall.
"We knew that it was going to be a battle, but we gutted this one out by making a few more plays than Charlotte did," said head coach Karen Barefoot. "Everyone stepped up and did their job today. We got complacent at the end, and stopped being as aggressive as we should have been, but all in all I felt that we were in control the whole game. I am proud of the way we fought and the energy we brought to the table. I know this team can do great things!"
Jennie Simms led all scorers with 24 points, to go along with her eight rebounds and six assists. Ije Ajemba dominated the glass and pulled in 21 rebounds, tying the C-USA Championship single game record that was set by Kim Brown (UAB) against Southern Miss on Feb. 27, 1998. She also tied the record for defensive rebounds with 14, set by Brown in 1998 and again by Valeriy Berezhynska (Rice) in 2007. Destinee Young and Keyana Brown also put up 11 points and two steals.
The first five minutes of the game proved to be a defensive battle, as both teams combined for just 14 points. By the first media timeout of the game (3:48), Charlotte held a slight 11-7 edge over the Lady Monarchs. Following the break, ODU went on an 8-2 run to hold the two-point lead at the end of the quarter. Simms was ODU’s biggest offensive threat, as she scored 11 of the Lady Monarchs’ 15 points in the opening period. She also added four rebounds and two assists.
The Lady Monarchs kept the momentum going and opened the second period with a 5-0 spurt over the first two minutes, forcing the 49ers to call a timeout. On the defensive side of the run, ODU held Charlotte to just two shots and forced a turnover. The 49ers responded with eight unanswered points to take a 21-20 lead by the 5:39 mark. Coach Barefoot called a 30-second timeout to regroup and the Lady Monarchs came out of the break on a mission. ODU put together a 13-5 run to close the period and held a 33-26 edge over the 49ers at the intermission. ODU’s defense played with passion during that span and held Charlotte to 2-of-11 shooting, including a 0-5 showing in the final three minutes.
Simms continued to be a problem for her opponent’s defense, as she scored 13 points, pulled in four rebounds and dished out four assists in the opening half. Ajemba was a force to be reckoned with on the glass, pulling in a game-high 14 boards in 16 minutes. She finished the first half just seven rebounds shy of the C-USA Tournament record.
As a team, ODU shot 40 percent from the floor, while holding Charlotte to just 28 percent on a 9-of-32 showing. The Lady Monarchs also held a hefty 27-19 edge on the glass.
Old Dominion kept the energy flowing and saw its lead grow to as many as 13 points in the opening five minutes of the third quarter. The Lady Monarchs forced Charlotte into three turnovers and a scoring drought of 2:43, forcing the 49ers to end the suffering with a 30 second timeout with 5:13 on the clock. Old Dominion went through a little spurt of cold shooting (1-9) over the last five minutes, allowing Charlotte to creep back into single digits (45-36) by the end of the period.
Brown opened the final period for ODU with a deep three, but Charlotte responded and pulled within eight points (48-40) with 6:41 remaining after four consecutive points off a Lady Monarch turnover. Charlotte also held ODU to a 2:30 scoring drought in their effort to mount a comeback, but Barefoot used her second timeout of the contest to pull her team together. ODU once again took a 10-point advantage at the 5:57 mark, but the 49ers pulled with three points with 1:57 on the clock after a 7-0 run, capped by a Laia Raventós three. Brown answered and nailed a clutch three to end the run and put ODU ahead by six (53-47) with 1:42 left to play.
After another Raventós jumper with 47 seconds left (53-49), Barefoot called a timeout to advance the ball up the court. Charlotte immediately fouled Simms on the inbounds, allowing her to make a free-throw and give the Lady Monarchs the 54-49 lead with 36 seconds left. ODU got a big stop on Charlotte's next possession and got two from the charity stripe from Young to go up six with 18 seconds on the clock.
The 49ers would not give up and pulled within one point (55-54) after a layup by Grace Hunter and three from Raventós in a span of six seconds. Barefoot called her final timeout with six seconds remaining, knowing the 49ers would have to foul to stop the clock. ODU got the ball in the hands of Simms and she sunk both from the foul line after immediately being fouled, making it a one-possession game (57-54) with five seconds left on the clock. The Lady Monarchs held up on defense forcing a missed 25-foot three to secure the win.
For the game, ODU shot 31.3 percent (21-67), while Charlotte went 20--for-62 for a 32.3 percentage. ODU also held a 47-44 edge on the glass, including an 18-16 advantage in offensive boards.
Kira Gordon paced Charlotte with 12 points, while Raventós and Lefty Webster chipped in 11 points. Alexis Alexander also finished with eight points and a team-high 11 rebounds.
UP NEXT FOR ODU
The Lady Monarchs advanced to the semifinals of the C-USA Women’s Basketball Tournament and will face the UTEP Miners on Friday at 11:00 a.m. (ET) at Legacy Arena. The game will be broadcast nationally on CBS Sports Network, which is Cox 216 in Hampton Roads.
Top seed UTEP outlasted host (8) UAB, 62-59, in a wild overtime contest. The game appeared destined for double overtime when Chelsee Black, who led UAB with a game-high 19 points, banked in a halfcourt shot at the buzzer. But after an official review, it was determined that the shot came after time expired to send the Miners (26-3) into the semifinals.
The game will also be broadcast on ESPN 94.1 FM and Monarch Media with Doug Ripley and Susan Montgomery on the call. The radio show will begin at 10:30 a.m. (ET).
Live stats will also be available once the contest begins.
Following each contest, fans can tune into all post-game press conferences, courtesy of the C-USA Digital Network.
Be sure to follow ODU Women’s Basketball on Twitter (@ODUWBB) and Instagram (@oduwbasketball) and ‘Like’ the ODU Lady Monarch Basketball on Facebook to stay up to date with the latest news and coverage during the 2016 Conference USA Women’s Basketball Championship.