All Sports Schedule

Defense Shines as ODU Women's Basketball Defeats Florida Gulf Coast 55-42 to Remain Undefeated

Bruce Butler

NORFOLK, Va. – If there was any doubt as to how good the Old Dominion women's basketball defense truly is, the team put that talk to rest on Sunday as the Monarchs improved to 7-0 with a 55-42 victory over Florida Gulf Coast.
The Eagles (6-3) came into the game ranked third in the country in three-point attempts per game and seventh in three-pointers made per game. They were also receiving votes in the latest AP Poll and were ranked third in's Mid Major Top 25 Poll.  
It's fitting then that today's game was Gospel Night at Chartway Arena as the visitors were sending up prayers from beyond the arc. ODU held the Eagles to just 1-for-24 shooting from distance, the fewest amount of threes made by FGCU since Feb. 2, 2008 when the Eagles went 1-for-8 in a 59-41 win at Belmont.
"A gutsy win on our behalf," head coach DeLisha Milton-Jones said afterwards. "Our program is doing a great job of raising the standard, and giving people a different identity in terms of who they see us as. And I'm so proud of the effort that this group is putting forth this year because we're making noise in the right way. I can't express how happy I am, how happy I am for each and every one of them. They all have a story and they all believed in our program, they believed in me and the vision that we have set forth. And now to see it manifesting itself right before our eyes in real time is a very special thing to witness."
For ODU, Jordan McLaughlin tied her career best of 22 points thanks to a 3-for-5 effort from the perimeter and a 5-for-6 efficiency at the free-throw line. The senior guard added six rebounds and one assist to her totals.
En'Dya Buford went 7-for-7 at the line to contribute 13 points with seven boards, one assist and one steal. Mimi McCollister chipped in nine points on 3-for-4 shooting from long range and Simone Cunningham grabbed a season high 16 boards with six points and three steals.
The Monarchs led 28-20 at halftime, but went into the final quarter trailing the Eagles 39-36. Enter ODU's defense, which proceeded to hold the visitors to just three points over the final 10 minutes of play. While FGCU shot just 1-for-11 from the floor in the fourth, ODU turned to its tried and true: a high rate of free-throw shooting when it matters. The Monarchs made 10-of-11 shots at the charity stripe to pull away down the stretch.
A senior who transferred to ODU from Jones Junior College, Buford scored nine of her points in the fourth quarter. Asked about finishing the game strong and keeping her composure, she said, "I got frustrated a couple times and my coaches and my teammates just held me together and they were there for me. So I was able to just keep being competitive, finish the game out and do what I can to help the team."
"I thought that we did a tremendous job of defending a very good team," continued Milton-Jones. "They're coached by a legendary coach who I feel doesn't get all of the publicity and the respect and attention that he deserves. So tonight being able to play Florida Gulf Coast at home and to hold them to 24 attempts from the three-point line, that's admirable in itself when they're accustomed to having 40 or more. But then for them to only hit one is amazing, and I have to applaud the efforts that we put forth on the defensive end. Our young women got out there and they rolled their sleeves up and stayed committed and focused to the game plan for this team. It took the entire team to get it done today."
FGCU opened the game with six unanswered points, but ODU's offense started clicking late in the first quarter as McLaughlin and McCollister combined for three deep balls in the final minute and nine seconds as ODU pulled ahead, 15-8.
A pair of Buford free throws made it a 22-10 advantage with 7:14 to play in the second quarter. FGCU cut that lead to six at 26-20 thanks to a good jumper from Ajulu Thatha and a layup by Sofia Persson. Cunningham then grabbed a steal and drained a jumper in the paint to round out the scoring in the first half.
Sunday's game featured just three ties and five lead changes as the Monarchs led for over 26 minutes. FGCU scored more points in the paint (30-16), but ODU had more points off turnovers (14-11), second-chance points (10-9), fast-break points (8-2) and bench production (14-2).
Up next for the Monarchs is a road trip to Newark, Delaware this Thursday for a 7 p.m. meeting will the Blue Hens.