ODU Defense Downs @LATechHoops, 68-52
March 10, 2016
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – When Old Dominion ended Louisiana Tech’s 39-game home court winning streak two months ago in Ruston, the Monarchs did it with defense.
On Thursday afternoon at Legacy Arena in Birmingham, Old Dominion used the same recipe to eliminate Louisiana Tech in conference tournament action.
Trey Freeman scored 25 points and Old Dominion (21-12) held the Bulldogs (23-9) to a season low in points and field goal percentage in a 68-52 victory by the Monarchs in quarterfinal action of the 2016 Conference USA Tournament.
“Obviously, it wasn’t the type of game that we hoped for,” said Tech head coach Eric Konkol. “Give ODU credit. They’re playing good basketball right now.”
Early in the contest, it was Louisiana Tech that appeared to be the team playing good basketball. Jacobi Boykins opened the contest with a three-pointer and the Bulldogs quickly built a 7-0 lead. However, ODU came storming back to tie the game 9-9 with 12:46 to play in the opening half on a pair of three-pointers and a conventional three-point play.
“My plan was to play like we did the first few minutes of the game and move the basketball very quickly,” Konkol said. “We were playing with eight scholarship players, and we were trying to keep them out of foul trouble. We got in foul trouble and weren’t able to press because of that.”
Tech maintained a slim 23-21 lead on a pair of free throws by Dayon Griffin with just over four minutes remaining in the first half before Old Dominion used a 12-4 run to close the half, taking a 32-27 advantage into the halftime locker room.
The run continued early in the second half as Old Dominion scored 10 of the first 12 points coming out of the locker room to take a 42-29 lead as the Bulldogs missed on six of their first seven shots from the field.
“We just weren’t making shots,” said Conference USA Player of the Year Alex Hamilton. “Usually we have shots falling, and guys knocking down shots. Give credit to their defense though. They did a great job all-around.”
Junior Erik McCree cut the ODU lead to nine at 44-35 with a three-pointer at the 15:04 mark of the second half, but Old Dominion responded with another run – this one 11-0 as the Monarchs grabbed a commanding 55-35 lead. Tech would be unable to get closer than 15 points the rest of the way.
For the game, Tech shot 33 percent (18-55) from the field, including 5-of-20 from the three-point line while ODU hit 44 percent (24-55) from the field, including seven three-pointers.
When Old Dominion did miss, the Monarchs were able to capitalize on second-chance opportunities, outscoring the Bulldogs 16-2 on second chance points.
“They tried to slow the game up when we started the game fast,” Hamilton said. “They started walking it up and made it a gritty game instead of our tempo. That had a big part to do with it.”
McCree led Tech with 15 points while Hamilton added 12 points, six assists and five rebounds.
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