ODU men’s basketball team edge past UTSA, 83-51, in first game in two weeks

Through Harry Minium

NORFOLK, Virginia – Showing few side effects from a COVID-enforced two-week absence from the field, the Old Dominion basketball team passed the University of Texas-San Antonio with surprising ease Thursday at Chartway Arena.

Led by 19 points from senior center Austin Trice and 16 points and seven assists from the second-year point guard Jaylin Hunter, the Monarchs edged the Roadrunners, 83-51.

ODU last played Dec. 30, when the Monarchs won 82-77 over Florida International in Miami. Then came game postponements on January 1 at Florida Atlantic and last Saturday at Charlotte after players tested positive for COVID.

After compiling a disappointing 5-8 record in the non-conference portion of its schedule, in which the Monarchs have lost their last three games, ODU has since won its first two Conference USA games, albeit 14 days out. ‘interval. The Monarchs (7-8 overall, 2-0 C-USA) sit alone atop the Conference USA East Division standings.

Coach Jeff Jones unfolded in training with just six players for most of the last two weeks and three of those six players who have trained a lot.

Trice made his first start of the season and scored six points in the first two minutes of the game and had 15 by halftime. He had nine of 11 shots, including two thunderous dunk shots.

Hunter hit six of nine shots and CJ Keyser, the senior transfer from North Carolina Central, scored 16 points. Both played 30 minutes.

Mekhi Long was isolated recently but scored eight points and led ODU with nine rebounds.

“Guys who hadn’t had COVID, we knew we had to be pretty good at raising people coming back from isolation,” Hunter said. “They spent a lot of time in their rooms, so they were out of shape, and their shots were probably a little weird.

“Our job was to put them back together.”

UTSA (7-10, 0-4) had its final game postponed Dec. 30 but was shorthanded Thursday due to COVID. Starters Cedrick Alley Jr and Jordan Ivy-Curry, who are averaging 24.4 points per game, did not play.

ODU made 62% of its shots, largely because 40 Monarch points went into the paint.

The Monarchs led by 12 at halftime and quickly opened the game in the second half. UTSA cut the margin to 10, 33-23, on a Lachian Bofinger hook a minute into the second half, but the Monarchs outscored UTSA, 14-2, over a 6-game stretch 1/2 minutes to put the game out of reach.

Trice built the lead at 25, 56-31, with a dunk kick with 12:23 to go that lifted the crowd of 4,651.

While Jones said he didn’t expect the margin of victory to be 32 points, he added that “we faced a team that had even more problems in terms of a team roster. “.

Trice took the start in place of Kalu Ezipke, who had not trained for a week. A Chicago native who transferred to ODU in 2019 from Kansas State, Trice had been a force off the bench in ODU’s previous four games, averaging 17 points and 10 rebounds per game in during this sequence.

“It was far from Kalu’s best game, but he really, really worked,” Jones said. “You could tell early on that he was sucking the wind and fighting, but he gave us a big push.”

Starting Trice in place of Ezipke “was a no-brainer,” he added.

“We really didn’t know what to expect with Kalu,” Jones said. “But Austin is playing the best basketball of his career and has been really, really good for us for about five games.”

The game was a fundraiser for Samaritan’s Feet, a Christian organization that has provided shoes for more than nine million needy children around the world. Jones coached barefoot throughout the match and was joined by Drew Lake, the video coordinator, who also walked on the sidelines without shoes.

Jones donated $5,000 and ODU fans have contributed $4,085 since Tuesday night.

The money will be used to provide shoes for students at Jacox Elementary School in Norfolk. Chartway Federal Credit Union, for whom Chartway Arena is named, contributed $2,500.

“It’s awesome, it’s really awesome,” Jones said of the total of $9,085 raised.

Fundraising continues all weekend. Make a donation, CLICK HERE

ODU then hosts UTEP on Saturday night at Chartway Arena. UTEP (8-8, 1-3) lost to Charlotte, 66-53, Thursday night.

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