NORFOLK, Va. (ODUSports.com) – In a game that the Monarchs led by as many as 25, the Old Dominion men’s basketball team (5-9, 1-0 C-USA) defeated Middle Tennessee (4-10, 0-1 C-USA) by a 70-60 score on Thursday night at Chartway Arena in the Conference USA opener.
After trailing by as many as 20 in the first half, Middle Tennessee opened the second half on a 9-1 run, trimming its deficit to 12, 36-24, at the 17:57 mark. ODU answered with a 17-4 run, claiming a 25-point lead, 53-28, with 9:59 to play. The Blue Raiders answered back with a 25-7 run, to pull within seven, 60-53, with 2:49 remaining in regulation, but would get no closer as Old Dominion went on to win by 10.
Jason Wade poured in a career-high 21 points on 9-13 shooting from the floor, to compliment nine rebounds, four steals, three assists and one block. A.J. Oliver followed with 19 points (8-8 FT), six rebounds and one steal. Also in double-figures for ODU was Xavier Green, who went for 14 points, five rebounds and one assist. Kalu Ezikpe finished with eight points and a game-high 12 rebounds, one assist and one block. Malik Curry chipped in eight points (6-6 FT), four rebounds and two assists.
“For much of the game, I thought we played very good basketball,” explained ODU head coach Jeff Jones. “I loved our energy and I loved how engaged we were. I think a telling stat was our big advantage in the rebounding department against a bigger and more athletic team. I am thrilled to get the victory, but we can still work on the less intelligent plays that we made down the stretch.”
For the game, Old Dominion held advantages for rebounds (50-29) and points in the paint (28-12). ODU led for 38:11, MT held a lead for 1:27, while the game was tied for 22 seconds.
The Monarchs shot 81.1% (18-22) from the charity stripe in the second half. For the contest, ODU’s defense held MTSU to 32.8% (19-58) shooting from the floor, 34.3% (12-35) from deep and 47.6% (10-21) from the free-throw line.
The Monarchs claimed a 35-17 at halftime, behind a half-high 14 points from Wade. Oliver II followed with eight points, while Green chipped in seven points. Ezikpe hauled down a half-high seven rebounds. ODU’s defense held the Blue Raiders to 20% (6-30) shooting from the floor and 21% (4-19) shooting from deep in the opening 20 minutes.
Old Dominion will be back in action on Saturday, Jan. 4, when the Monarchs welcome UAB to Chartway Arena for a 7:00 p.m. ET tip. Saturday night’s game will stream on ESPN+ and air across the ODU Sports Radio Network, with Ted Alexander and Dave Twardzik’s live pregame show beginning at 6:30 p.m.