EL PASO, Texas – The Old Dominion men’s basketball team (16-and-5, 6-and-2 C-USA) defeated UTEP (6-and-12, 1-and-6 C-USA) by a 50-48 score on Thursday night at the Don Haskins Center. With the win, the Monarchs move into first place in Conference USA. ODU is a half-game ahead of North Texas, UAB, Marshall and UTSA – all tied at 5-and-2 in the league.
For the contest, Old Dominion held UTEP to 25.9% (15-of-58) shooting from the floor and 30.0% (6-of-20) shooting from three-point range. The Monarchs have now won five in a row and 14 of its last 16 games.
Justice Kithcart’s fourth three-pointer of the contest gave ODU its largest lead of the ballgame, 44-33, with 8:48 to play. The Miners answered with a 15-4 run to tie the contest at 48-48 with 1:19 remaining in regulation.
With 1:01 left in the second half, B.J. Stith drilled two free-throws to give the Monarchs a 50-48 lead. On the next possession, ODU’s defense would force a missed three-pointer. After a missed Ahmad Caver jumper with 16 seconds to play, Old Dominion’s defense would force a jump ball at the other end, with the possession arrow in favor of the Monarchs, ultimately allowing ODU to run out the clock and claim a two-point victory on Thursday night in El Paso.
Kithcart led the Monarchs and tied his career-high with 16 points on 6-7 shooting from the floor and 4-5 shooting from deep, to go along with two rebounds and two assists in 19 minutes of action. Caver followed with 13 points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals. Also in double-figures for ODU was Stith, who went for 12 points, three rebounds and two steals. Carver finished with nine rebounds. ODU’s bench outscored the Miners’ 25-10.
“We played really hard and so did UTEP,” said ODU head coach Jeff Jones. “We did not play that well though. Our effort was certainly there. This was a very physical game and I think that affected the shooting percentages. Baskets were hard to come by. Our guys just kept fighting.”
ODU claimed a 22-17 lead at the half, while holding the Miners to 19.0% (6-31) shooting from the floor in the opening 20 minutes. The Monarchs were led by Caver’s half-high 10 points, followed by Kithcart’s eight points. Robinson III hauled down a half and career-high eight rebounds in seven minutes of work, while Carver grabbed seven boards, respectively.
“Now we have to get our guys recovered and recuperated for our game on Saturday at UTSA,” concluded Jones.
Old Dominion will return to the hardwood on Saturday, Jan. 26, when the Monarchs take on UTSA for a 4:00 p.m. ET tip on ESPN+.