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Big Second Half Leads Women's Basketball to Cage Bobcats

Texas State Athletics

SAN MARCOS, Texas – It was a tale of two halves in San Marcos, Texas on Wednesday afternoon as the Old Dominion women's basketball team erased a 14-point deficit to earn a 66-58 road win over Texas State.

"Today was definitely a trap game," said assistant coach Roland Jones Jr. "It was a gut check and we came back. Championships are won on the road and we won a big game today."

Trailing 38-24 with 8:15 to play in the third quarter, Brenda Fontana was fouled on a layup and made her ensuing free throw to help get the offense going. Nearly a minute and a half later, the junior forward knocked down a three-pointer from the top of the arc to open up a 9-0 run that got the Monarchs (15-5, 7-3 Sun Belt) to within 41-38. A Simone Cunningham layup at the 1:28 mark cut the home team's lead to 42-40. Both sides then got to the free-throw line and Texas State took a 46-42 advantage into the final 10 minutes.

ODU's defense continued to rattle the Bobcats (11-11, 2-8) in the fourth quarter, allowing the Monarch offense to find its rhythm. A Lanetta Williams hook shot ignited an early 8-0 run that gave the Monarchs their first lead since the closing seconds of the first quarter. After a three from TXST's Ja'Niah Henson and a free throw by Julia Coleman knotted the score at 50-50, Fontana made a pair of free throws and a layup to put ODU back on top for good. Jordan McLaughlin, Kaye Clark and En'Dya Buford put together a 12-2 swing that pushed the lead to 66-54 with 50 seconds remaining. The Bobcats scored a pair of late buckets off a pair of ODU turnovers, but by then the game was out of reach.

Asked about what the message was at halftime, Jones said, "When you put yourself in a hole, you've got to dig your way out. That's all that was said and we had to come out with the right energy and the right focus to get us back in the game. Then once we evened it up, once it was back to 0-0, it was our job to overtake them and win the game."

ODU saw most of its production come from its starting five. Clark and Fontana finished with 13 points each, Buford ended up with 11 points, McLaughlin also had a double-digit outing with 10 points, and Cunningham contributed eight points and a team-high nine rebounds. On defense, Cunningham, Williams and Halima Salat recorded one block each. Six different players combined for eight steals, led by Clark with three.

The Monarchs shot 22-for-52 (.423) from the field, 3-for-16 (.188) from distance, and 19-for-27 (.704) at the charity stripe. After making just 4-of-10 shots at the line in the first half, ODU went 3-for-3 in the third quarter and 12-for-14 in the fourth. The Monarchs also scored more points in the paint (36-28) and on fast breaks (20-9) in addition to winning the battle on the glass (41-31).

The game also marked Texas State's Youth Field Trip Day as the Bobcats hosted over 3,300 elementary school students at Strahan Arena.

"We took the energy from the kids that were in the stands, bottled it up and went out and got a win," continued Jones. "[Texas State] is a team that's down right now, they're in the bottom half of the league, and if we lost this game it would come back to bite us in the butt later on down the road. So right now for us, our mentality is every game counts for a championship."

ODU built an 8-0 lead to start the game, but TXST responded with a 13-2 swing to jump ahead. A pair of baskets from Clark and Jenny Nkem Womsi put the Monarchs back in front, 14-13, but a long three from Sierra Dickson beat the buzzer as the Bobcats went up 16-14.

In the second quarter, the hosts pushed their lead to double digits at 24-14 and again at 26-16. Six straight points by Buford closed the gap to 26-22, but the Bobcats answered with seven unanswered to close out the half. An offensive foul with three seconds left erased what would have been a made layup for Fontana, and Henson drained a halfcourt shot for another buzzer beater as TXST led 30-22 at halftime.

ODU will have a couple of days to prepare for Arkansas State. The Monarchs will be in Jonesboro, Arkansas this Saturday for a 1 p.m. EST meeting with the Red Wolves.

"We've got another big one to go and get down at Arkansas State. They have one of the best scorers in the league in [Izzy] Higginbottom, and we just have to take this show on the road and continue to win," said Jones.