ODU Women open season with dominant 80-52 against South Carolina State

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NORFOLK (ODU Athletics) – With four starters back and 10 newcomers, the Old Dominion women’s basketball team is expected to be deep and explosive this season, and the Monarchs were both in their season opener Tuesday night.

Led by Iggy Allen, a graduate transfer from Florida Atlantic, and Ajah Wayne, ODU’s top returner from last season, the Monarchs crushed South Carolina State, 80-52, at Chartway Arena. 

Allen and Wayne scored 15 points apiece, and all five starters finished in double figures, including Kaye Clark, a junior college transfer who started and had 11 points and four steals.

ODU forced 35 turnovers, the most in nearly a decade, had 19 steals and blew open the game in the first half.

ODU took an 11-0 lead after 2 ½ minutes on a Wayne jump shot and extended it to 22 points, 42-20, on a Clark jumper with 3:30 left in the first half. 

Wayne blocked a shot by Trinity Klock to end the first half with ODU leading 48-25. ODU eased off the gas in the third quarter, scoring just 13 points.

However, the Monarchs led by 35 with 3:54 left when all five starters headed to the bench and received a standing ovation from a small but vocal crowd of 1,649.

Amari Young added 11 points, six rebounds and two steals, and Mariah Adams chipped in 10 points and four steals.

Allen’s debut as a Monarch had been long anticipated. She played only briefly in ODU’s exhibition victory over Christopher Newport last week but impressed with her athleticism on both ends of the floor in her first game.

Allen was the Conference USA Newcomer of the Year last season at Florida Atlantic, when she averaged 22.2 points and 10.9 rebounds per game.

Allen said she has been impressed with ODU’s talent level and the atmosphere in Chartway Arena.

“I’m glad I don’t have to play against them this year,” she said of her teammates.

“The energy tonight was great. It was electric in the building. Our fans and supporters came through. It was a great first game.”

ODU coach DeLisha Milton-Jones said she expects Allen will play in the WNBA.

“She has that type of talent. She is an WNBA prototype,” Milton-Jones said. “The way that she can score at all levels, and the intensity she can play with on the defensive end, I think this young lady deserves a shot. 

“We’re going to try to showcase her while making sure that whatever she’s doing is helping the program.”

Nonetheless, Milton-Jones wasn’t satisfied with how her team played. 

“If I had to give us a grade I would give us a solid C-plus,” she said. “I’m giving us a C-plus because I’m expecting more consistency on both ends of the floor.”

She especially praised Kaye, saying “that a lot of what she does doesn’t show up on a stat sheet.”

The game was preceded by a moment of silence for former ODU All-American Medina Dixon, who passed away recently from pancreatic cancer. Dixon was a first-team All-American in 1985, when she helped lead the Lady Monarchs to their first NCAA title and third national championship.

South Carolina State, coached by former Virginia star Audra Smith, mother to ODU men’s basketball player A.J. Oliver II, got 19 points from Klock. 

ODU plays again Sunday when the Monarchs host Auburn at 2 p.m. Although Auburn was 5-19 last season, the Tigers have a new coaching staff and a team stocked with newcomers, including Xaria Wiggins, a transfer from Mississippi State who played at Virginia Beach’s Princess Anne High School.

Auburn is the first of two games against Power 5 teams for ODU. The Monarchs play Texas Tech on a neutral court on Nov. 27.  

“We have a grand opportunity in front of us,” Milton-Jones said. “Both teams are going to be hungry for a win.

“We need Chartway Arena rocking when Auburn comes to town.”

Game Notes
– ODU’s starting five of Iggy Allen (15), Ajah Wayne (15), Kaye Clark (11), Amari Young (11), and Mariah Adams (10) all cracked double figures in scoring. The last time all five starters scored 10 or more points was in Old Dominion’s 102-95 double-overtime loss to Charlotte on Feb. 10, 2021.

– South Carolina State’s 35 turnovers are the most by an ODU opponent since the 2012-13 season. That season both USC Upstate (Nov. 13) and Alabama A&M (Dec. 12) committed 34 turnovers. The program single-game record for turnovers by an opponent is 48, set by UNCW in 1996.

– The Monarchs had 19 steals on Tuesday, one off the Chartway Arena record of 20 set in a Feb. 22, 2007 game against George Mason.

– Mariah Adams matched her career high with four steals. Adams had hit four steals two times prior with the last time coming against Florida Atlantic on Feb. 26, 2020.

– Old Dominion scored 14-unanswered points across 4:47 in the fourth quarter. S.C. State committed seven turnovers and missed both of its shot attempts in that span.

– All 14 Monarchs who dressed for Tuesday night appeared in the game, and 11 scored at least one point. No Monarch played more than 27 minutes against the Bulldogs, and nine players clocked at least 10 minutes.

– Ten Monarchs made their team debut on Tuesday night. Newcomers Iggy Allen and Kaye Clark drew starting assignments as well. Exactly half of ODU’s scoring came from a player making their debut.

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