NORFOLK (ODU Sports) — The Old Dominion women’s basketball team shot poorly but used superior depth and a swarming defense to wear down Xavier and claim a 55-43 victory Tuesday night at Chartway Arena.
The Monarchs moved to 3-0 overall and garnered some revenge for a 65-49 loss at Xavier last season in Cincinnati.
ODU made just 23-of-66 shots (34.8%) and also shot poorly in a 59-48 victory over Buffalo last weekend. Head coach DeLisha Milton-Jones said that is perhaps to be expected of a team with 10 newcomers.
“I’m super pleased with the fact that we are continuing to grow as we go,” she said. “We’re finding a way to win in spite of needing all these reps to help us learn about each other and find some cohesiveness.
“I’m not sure there’s a coach in the country who is pleased with how their team is looking because there are things that need to be enhanced or adjusted. I’m pleased to see all the contributions we’re getting from our substitutes and our bench.”
Shorn of most of its depth by injuries and eligibility issues, Xavier came to Norfolk with nine able-bodied players. Xavier’s starters all played between 30 and 37 minutes while Milton-Jones used 12 players.
En’Dya Buford, the 5-foot-7 junior college transfer, led ODU with 12 points while Mikayla Brown, one of a handful of returnees for the Monarchs, had 11 points and seven rebounds.
The Musketeers (0-3), who lost their 23rd game in a row, trailed by just six after a first half in which both teams shot poorly.
Xavier made just 6-of-27 shots (30 percent) while ODU was 10-of-37 (27 percent), including an 0-for-9 performance beyond the three-point arc.
Xavier led, 7-6, midway through the first quarter when Buford scored three consecutive baskets to give the Monarchs a 15-7 cushion and the lead for good.
Lanetta Williams, who played with Buford for two seasons at Memphis, made a hook shot to advance the margin to 23-14 midway through the second quarter. But the Monarchs were unable to put the Musketeers away until the fourth quarter.
Xavier kept it relatively close through most of the second half before the Monarchs pulled away in the final minutes.
ODU won the game with muscle. The Monarchs out-rebounded Xavier, 43-33, and outscored the Musketeers, 36-12, in the paint.
Milton-Jones said with so many newcomers, she and her coaching staff have spent more time than usual honing the team’s defense.
“I need for all of our newcomers to understand how important it is” to play defense, she said. “We understand that any night you could come in and you can make or miss shots, but you can also come in and dictate on the defensive end.”
Buford said adjusting to a new school, new teammates and coaches is going well.
“I like being around our players and our coaches,” she said. “It’s really a matter of just getting to know each other.
“We’re constantly learning how we play with each other. I’m just glad to be here.”
The Monarchs host Texas Southern this Friday at 11 a.m. in the annual Education Day Game. The game will be attended by thousands of fourth graders from Norfolk Public Schools.
The Monarchs then take a break for exams until Wednesday, Nov. 28, when they host Elon at Chartway Arena at 6:30 p.m. Elon defeated the Monarchs last season at Elon.
The Monarchs have just two home games in December, but both are big ones. On Sunday, Dec. 3, they host Florida Gulf Coast, which was 33-4 and won the Atlantic Sun title last season and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Monarchs then host North Carolina State on December 20.. The Wolfpack upset No. 2 UConn on Sunday, 92-81.
“We made our schedule that way intentionally,” Milton-Jones said. “I want us to be tested when we begin Sun Belt play. And these teams will test us.”