NORFOLK, Va. (ODU Sports)- The Old Dominion women’s basketball team rolled past Florida Atlantic, 60-49, Wednesday night at Chartway Arena to take at least temporary sole control of the Conference USA lead.
ODU (24-3, 14-2 C-USA) leads Rice (18-8, 13-2) by half a game, but it might not last long with the Owls set to play at Louisiana Tech on Thursday.
The victory extended ODU’s home winning streak to 16 games dating back to last season. Victoria Morris led ODU with 16 points. Amari Young added 13 and nine rebounds and Mariah Adams 10. Taylor Edwards had eight points, six assists and two steals.
The Monarchs were determined not to repeat what happened in its last two games, when ODU bolted to big leads and allowed opponents to come back. And it didn’t, as ODU led by double figures most of the game.
ODU led Charlotte, 14-1, before succumbing to the 49ers, 63-59, last Thursday in a loss that ended an 11-game winning streak. ODU rebounded on Saturday, beating 64-54 Marshall, but watched a 22-point lead shrink to single digits before pulling away.
ODU used a 9-point run, capped by two Young baskets, to take a 30-15 lead early in the second quarter. ODU continued to hold a comfortable lead until an Astou Gaye layup trimmed the lead to ten, 51-41, early in the fourth quarter.
That prompted McCray to call a timeout and when play resumed, Edwards made a three-point play and then a layup to begin an 8-0 run. FAU never got closer than 11 the rest of the way.
The game was designated as the “Back Pat” game to honor Pat Summitt, the Naismith Hall of Fame women’s basketball coach who coached McCray at Tennessee.
McCray, her staff and injured players all wore black “Back Pat” shirts. McCray spoke about Summitt emotionally at game’s end.
“Tonight was a special game for me, to have the chance to honor Pat and all of those who have battled Alzheimer’s,” she said.
“I addressed the team and told them that there are two games that are important to me, our pink game and tonight,” she added referring to the Hoops for the Cure game that honors those who have gone through breast cancer.
“Pat was an amazing person, an amazing mentor, an amazing coach, friend, Mom, sister and daughter,” McCray added.
FAU (12-15, 6-10) was an underdog, but primed to upset one of the league’s best two teams, played well in what was a physical and loosely-called game.
The Owls managed to all but shut down ODU’s inside game, but the Monarch defense won the day. ODU had 13 steals and 5 blocked shots and forced 22 turnovers and the Owls made just 28 percent of their shots.
Morris said ODU is learning to adjust to being the team everyone wants to upset.
“We don’t want to be average, we don’t want to be mediocre,” she said. “We want to win a championship. We have our goals in front of us. Being being No. 1, what comes with it is that we’ve got a target on our back and every team is going to go out and play hardest against us.
“We’ve got to learn how to handle success.”