NORFOLK, Va. - In a game that the Monarchs led for 33:22 of the 40 minutes, the Old Dominion men’s basketball team (5-4, 0-0 C-USA) fell to VCU (7-3, 0-0 A-10) by a 67-64 score on Saturday night in front of a sold-out crowd (8,472) at the Ted Constant Convocation Center, on night that former Monarch great Kent Bazemore had his jersey retired and was inducted into the ODU Ring of Honor.
VCU used a 16-1 run to take a 56-50 advantage with 4:11 remaining in regulation. Two Ahmad Caver free-throws and a Brandan Stith dunk got Old Dominion within one, 63-62, with 1:44 to play, forcing an VCU timeout. Two Justin Tillman free-throws put the Rams up 65-62 with 45 seconds showing on the game-clock.
B.J. Stith then made a layup to pull the Monarchs back within one, 65-64, with 37.7 remaining. Jonathan Williams connected on 1-2 from the FT line, before Justin Tillman also made 1-2 to give the Rams a three-point lead and ultimately victory on Saturday night as Caver’s three-point attempt was no good as time expired.
“This was a hard fought game,” said ODU head coach Jeff Jones. “Coming in we knew this would be a defense battle. As hard as our guys played, and our guys played really hard, it was the free-throws and missed opportunities that ultimately did us in. We’ve got to figure out a way to help ourselves out; we can’t keep having these self-inflicted wounds if we want to get over this hump against a very good team.”
B.J. Stith (five rebounds) led a trio of Monarchs in double-figures with a career-high 17 points, while Ahmad Caver (four assists) followed with 16 points and Brandan Stith chipped in 10 points, nine rebounds, two assists and two blocks.
Jordan Baker finished with eight points, five assists and two steals. Denzell Taylor had six points, six rebounds, two blocks, two steals and one assist.
VCU held a 42-24 edge for points in the paint for the contest. JeQuan Lewis led all scorers with 20 points.
The Monarchs jumped out to a 15-4 lead seven minutes into the contest, connecting on 71% (5-7) from the floor. The Rams answered on an 8-0 run, cutting their deficit to 15-12, before ODU responded with seven straight to stretch the lead to seven, 22-15, with 6:30 left in the first.
Old Dominion held a 34-28 lead at halftime, after shooting 57.1% (12-21) from the floor and 75.0% (6-8) from three-point range. B.J. Stith scored a half-high 10 points, while Ahmad Caver followed with eight.
A B.J. Stith three gave the Monarchs a 47-40 lead with 11:52 to play in the contest, before a Travis Fields layup extended the lead to 53-44 at the 7:30 mark.
JeQuan Lewis’ made three-pointer plus the foul tied the ballgame at 55 apiece with 5:51 left and then the Rams claimed the lead for the first time all game, 57-56, with 4:55 to play.
At halftime, Bazemore officially joined fellow Monarch greats Leo Anthony, Joel Copeland, Kenny Gattison, Dave Twardzik, Wilson Washington, Mark West and Odell Hodge in the ODU Ring of Honor.