Old Dominion Returns To CAA Finale With 73-62 Victory Over #4 Delaware

March 12, 2004
By ODU Athletics
ODU Sports

March 12, 2004

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NORFOLK, Va. - Old Dominion University senior Myriah Spence (Espanola, N.M.) scored 12 of her game-high 18 points in the first half as the top-seeded Lady Monarchs raced out to a 42-22 lead at halftime and withstood a late rally by the fourth-seeded University of Delaware to down the Blue Hens 73-62 Friday night in the second semifinal game of the 2004 CAA Women's Basketball Championship in Norfolk.

With the win, Old Dominion advances to Saturday's championship game where it will face second-seeded George Mason, which defeated Virginia Commonwealth in the day's first semifinal contest. The Lady Monarchs improve to 24-6 overall on the season, while the Blue Hens drop to 19-10.

Spence connected on 4-of-7 attempts from the field in the first half, including 3-of-5 from three-point range to propel the Lady Monarchs' to a 20-point halftime cushion. Spence ended up with 18 points on 6-of-12 field goal shooting, while fellow seniors Monique Coker (Bronx, N.Y.) and Max Nhassengo (Maputo, Mozambique) registered 11 and 10 points respectively, to give ODU three in double-figures.

Delaware, which trailed by as many as 23 points in the second half, cut the deficit to six points, 68-62, after junior Tiara Malcom (Wilmington, Del.) sank a pair of free throws with 1:34 remaining, but Spence and juniors Lawonna Davis (Port St. Lucie, Fla.) and Shareese Grant (Virginia Beach, Va.) converted 5-of-6 free throw opportunities in the final 1:32 to seal the victory. Blue Hens' sophomore Amanda Blackstone (Schenectady, N.Y.) scored 13 of her career-high 17 points in the second half to lead the Delaware comeback bid.

The Lady Monarchs took their largest lead of the game, 54-31, with 10:55 remaining in the second half before Delaware outscored ODU 27-10 in the next 9:21, capped by freshman Alena Koshansky's (Fairfax, Va.) three-point field goal and Malcom's free throws. Koshansky finished the night with 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the field, while Malcom wound up with nine points, spurred by a 5-for-6 effort from the foul line.

Nhassengo shot 5-of-6 from the field and recorded a career-high eight steals in the victory, while Davis scored nine points and added four rebounds, three steals and a pair of blocks for the Lady Monarchs. Grant finished with nine points, a game-high six assists, four rebounds and a steal.

Old Dominion forced 28 Delaware turnovers, fueled by 18 steals, and scored 27 points off the Blue Hens' miscues. The Lady Monarchs shot 57.8% (26-for-45) from the field overall and 73.9% (17-for-23) from the foul line. Delaware shot 44.0% (22-for-50) overall from the floor but managed only a 3-for-8 effort from three-point range.

Saturday' championship is scheduled for a noon tipoff and can be seen live on Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic, Fox Sports Net South, Fox New York and Comcast Philadelphia.

Old Dominion, the 12-time defending CAA champions, will be facing George Mason in the title game for the first time since 1994. The Lady Monarchs defeated the Patriots 78-61 in the 1994 championship game to win what was their third straight CAA crown.

The winner of Saturday's match-up will receive the CAA's automatic bid to the 2004 NCAA Women's Basketball Championship.