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Monarchs Rally for 57-53 Win at Delaware

Michael Riccio/Delaware Athletics

NEWARK, Del. – Old Dominion women's basketball erased a 13-point deficit to secure a 57-53 road win over Delaware on Thursday night at the Bob Carpenter Center.

The Monarchs remain undefeated and improve to 8-0 with the victory. The win also snaps a five-game skid in the all-time series.

Trailing 32-30 at halftime, ODU put together a 6-0 run to jump ahead 40-35 with 5:19 to play in the third quarter Mikayla Brown tied the score at 35-35 with a 1-for-2 effort at the free-throw line. En'Dya Buford followed with a steal and a layup before Mimi McCollister knocked down a three-pointer from the left corner.

Delaware pulled even at 40-40 as Chloe Wilson made a couple of free throws, but Nnenna Orji answered with a bucket as the Monarchs went into the final quarter with a 42-40 lead.

In the fourth, a pair of Lanetta Williams layups opened up an 8-0 push as the Monarchs went up 50-40. Delaware scored the final seven points of the game to get to within 57-53, ODU dribbled out the final seven seconds to secure the comeback.

Orji said afterwards, "At the beginning it was kind of tough coming off the road. It's not something that we're used to because we've been at home so much, so I feel like our team definitely persevered and we pushed through, especially towards the end. We all brought it together and played with cohesiveness."

Eight different players scored for the Monarchs, led by Kaye Clark and Buford with nine points each. Jordan McLaughlin and Orji were right behind them with eight points apiece, and Williams and McCollister both turned in seven-point performances. Clark and Orji paced the team on the glass with six rebounds each, followed by Simone Cunningham with five. Clark has the team-high in assists with five and Buford set a new career high of seven steals.

Orji evened the score at 7-7 early in the first, but the Blue Hens (4-4) responded with a Sydney Boone three-pointer and later scored eight unanswered to go up 18-8 late in the opening quarter. Brown then snapped the ODU scoring drought with 10 seconds remaining.

A Tara Cousins three-pointer gave Delaware its largest lead of the game, 25-12 with 6:24 left in the second quarter. ODU won the quarter though, outscoring the home team 20-14. Back-to-back deep balls by Clark and McLaughlin cut the deficit to 27-20 at the 4:53 mark, and Brenda Fontana answered a Delaware basket with another three-pointer as the Monarchs trailed 29-23 with just over four minutes to play in the first half. Williams got her layup to fall and Buford added another shot from the perimeter as ODU was back within a point at 29-28. After the Blue Hens went 3-for-4 at the line, Orji made both of her free throws to cap off the scoring in the first half.

Asked what head coach DeLisha Milton-Jones told the team when the Monarchs were trailing by double digits, Orji said, "She asked us to bring the pain. Definitely with this squad on the other team. They're tough. None of us were scared, it was more nerves and I feel like we got all of that out of our system. Coming off the bench and watching the game, we were able to see our teammates' mistakes and when you come in, you know exactly what to do."

ODU combined to shoot 23-for-70 (.329) from the floor, including 6-for-19 (.316) from long range, and 5-for-10 (.500) at the line. The Monarchs edged the Blue Hens in points off turnovers (19-14), points in the paint (26-22) and points off the bench (25-10). Tonight's game featured five ties and five lead changes.

ODU will have over a week to prepare for its next game, a 1 p.m. meeting with VCU on Dec. 17 in Richmond.