BOONE, N.C. (Courtesy ODU Athletics) — Mekhi Long had his sixth double-double in the last seven games with a game-high 17 points and 12 rebounds to lead four in double figures for the Old Dominion men’s basketball team as they pulled out an impressive 74-63 win at Appalachian State on Saturday in a key Sun Belt Conference matchup.
“I couldn’t be prouder, what an effort by this team tonight,” said ODU Head Coach Jeff Jones. “We are a mash unit right now, but different guys stepped up. At halftime, moreso than in the last few years, while we were playing well, I was getting after them emphasizing the opportunity. In 20-25 years, this will be one game we will talk about.
ODU (17-11, 9-7) started quickly as Bryce Baker drained a 3-pointer and Chaunce Jenkins converted a 3-point play as the Monarchs jumped out to a 6-0 lead at the 17:43 mark. App State responded with an 11-2 burst for an 11-8 lead with 14:22 remaining after a pair of Terence Harcum free throws.
From that point, no one had more than a four-point lead in a first half that saw 13 lead changes. The Monarchs took their last lead of the half after a Tyreek Scott-Grayson 3-pointer to lead 31-30 with 3:14 left. App State scored five of last six points in the half with a Donovan Gregory jumper beating the halftime buzzer to put the hosts up 35-32 at intermission.
Baker got ODU back even with a 3-pointer just five seconds into the second half, but the Mountaineers answered with buckets from Tarnell Pearson and Gregory to lead 39-35 with 18:19 left. A Gregory pullup put the hosts up 41-40 with 16:14 on the clock, but that turned into the last lead for App State.
Yet again, the Monarchs responded with an 11-2 run to take a 51-43 lead with 12:17 left. Scott-Grayson stole the ball and Dbaji Walker grabbed him and was called for a flagrant foul. Following the two Scott-Grayson free throws, Long drained a 3-ball from the top of the key for the eight-point lead.
App State tied it one last time at 55 following an Xavion Brown putback, though that was as close as they could get as ODU ripped off a 13-1 run capped by a Dericko Williams layup off a Charles Smith IV feed to lead 68-56 with 1:49 left.
From there, the Monarchs were 6-of-6 from the line as Smith IV, Long and Scott-Grayson each hit a pair to ice a win.
Scott-Grayson added 14 points, seven rebounds and four assists for ODU. Williams scored 12 with five rebounds and Smith IV had 11 points, two rebounds and two assists.
“We definitely needed this game,” said Long who recorded his tenth double-double of the year. “We just had to keep fighting, it’s a great group of guys who just don’t give up.”
“Everything was against us and they put together a fantastic effort. I am so excited for these guys,” said Jones. “We made plays when we needed to and different guys did it.”
Gregory paced App State with 14 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals.
Old Dominion returns home to host Southern Miss on Wednesday night at 7 p.m., then closes the regular season with Marshall at home on Friday night also at 7 p.m.