Huskies still out of synch
Monarchs meet their objectives
If his team was going to have any chance of leaving Boston yesterday with a victory over Northeastern in the teams’ Colonial Athletic Association opener, Old Dominion coach Blaine Taylor knew it was going to be important for the Monarchs to achieve three goals.
Old Dominion had to defend NU’s top scorers, junior guards Jonathan Lee and Joel Smith, outrebound the Huskies, and create turnovers.
The Monarchs (5-3) accomplished all three objectives in a 69-59 triumph over the Huskies before a Matthews Arena crowd of 1,347.
They held Lee (11) and Smith (6) to a combined 17 points on 6-for-19 shooting, prevailed on the boards (35-30), and forced the Huskies into 22 turnovers, which resulted in 14 points for the visitors from Norfolk, Va.
“Any time you go on the road and get a double-digit win in this day and age, and in this league, you really feel like you stole one,’’ Taylor said after his team got a game-high 21 points and eight rebounds from senior forward Kent Bazemore and a double-double from senior forward Chris Cooper (17 points, 12 rebounds).
“That was kind of our theme: Let’s go on the road and let’s steal one.’’
When Taylor was told his team had made 15 steals, he joked, “I think they misunderstood me. It happens a lot.’’
NU (3-3) has dropped two straight after a 78-61 loss at La Salle Wednesday.
“I thought we were very concerned before today’s basketball game about competing on the backboards,’’ said coach Bill Coen. “That’s been Old Dominion’s trademark over the years. They’ve been a terrific rebounding program. I thought, for the most part, we did that.
“But at key moments they came up with rebounds that produced extra possessions and extra points. Between that and our mishandling of the basketball, we just gave them too many chances.’’
NU’s slump has muted the euphoria of last Saturday’s 78-64 road win over Big East foe St. John’s; Smith earned CAA player of the week honors after scoring a career-high 29 points and grabbing a team-high 10 rebounds.
Yesterday, however, he struggled for the second game in a row, shooting just 2 of 9 from the field (1 of 6 from the 3-point arc). In his last two games, Smith has 8 points on 3-for-17 shooting, 1 of 10 from the arc.
“I just think teams know, in their scouting report, he’s the one guy you just can’t leave open,’’ Coen said. “He’s really getting no space. I think he’s got to be a little more patient and let the game come to him.
“He’s in a hurry a little bit and whenever you do that it’s kind of like you’re in quicksand; the harder you work, the farther you get behind. But he’s rushing his shots, he’s rushing his looks, and he’s not being patient coming off screens and so on, so he’s just got to take a deep breath and slow down and get some pace to his game.
“Once he does that, you’re going to see the player you saw at St. John’s.’’
The Monarchs seized a 34-31 halftime lead when Bazemore, the CAA’s preseason player of the year, found Trian Iliadis in the corner for a buzzer-beating 3-pointer.
“I think it was big for Trian, more than anyone else, to see the ball go in, because it’s been a real tough season for him shooting the ball,’’ Bazemore said. “It was definitely a momentum swing. Plays like that are always huge.’’
NU got one just as big from 6-foot-8-inch freshman Quincy Ford (16 points, five rebounds) when his transition dunk gave the Huskies a 40-38 lead with 15:32 to go.
It was NU’s first lead since 2-0, but it wound up being its last when ODU’s Nick Wright (13 points) splashed a 3-pointer, sparking a 12-0 run.
The Huskies ratcheted up their defensive pressure and twice pulled within 5 (53-48 and 57-52), but ODU pulled away to twice lead by 14 (67-53 and 69-55) in the final 2 1/2 minutes.
“We were beaten today by a good program, a good player, and a good coach,’’ Coen said. “I thought our effort was there, but it just came up a little bit short.’’
Michael Vega can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.