All Sports Schedule

Fourth Quarter Outburst Lifts Monarchs Past Kent State, 82-76

David Dermer/Kent State Athletics

KENT, Ohio – Old Dominion women's basketball trailed by 10 with less than two minutes to play in the third quarter, but outscored Kent State 31-19 in the fourth to secure an 82-76 road win in the second round of the MAC-Sun Belt Challenge on Saturday.

En'Dya Buford set a new career high with 22 points as the senior guard from Memphis, Tennessee shot 8-for-14 (.571) from the field, 4-for-7 (.571) from beyond the arc, and 2-for-2 (1.000) at the free-throw line. She added six rebounds, three assists and one steal to her totals. Simone Cunningham recorded her first career double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds, and Jordan McLaughlin also finished in double figures with 17 points and eight boards. Kaye Clark also set a new career high with nine assists.

A close battle for most of the afternoon, the Golden Flashes (14-7, 9-2 MAC) used an 11-3 run to pull away, 56-46 with 1:42 remaining in the third quarter. Joy Campbell then made 3-of-4 free throw attempts and Buford nailed a jumper as the Monarchs (17-6, 8-4 Sun Belt) cut the deficit to 57-51 heading into the final stanza.

"Going into the fourth, I told the team now is the time for poise, but we must find a way to dictate tempo," said ODU Head Coach DeLisha Milton-Jones. "We pushed the tempo more offensively to speed up the game and play pressure physically and schematically against Kent. Once that happened, we were able to find the rhythm that fit our style of play where the ball and our bodies move. I'm extremely proud of my Monarchs."

Early in the fourth quarter, a Nnenna Orji layup and a three-pointer by Brenda Fontana got the Monarchs back to within a point at 57-56. Three minutes later, a traditional three-point play by Orji opened up a 13-0 run that was punctuated by back-to-back Buford threes. That surge put ODU ahead 73-63 with just under two minutes to go in the game. From there, McLaughlin converted 9-of-10 shots at the line to help clinch the victory.

The Monarchs combined to shoot 27-for-60 (.450) from the floor, 6-for-15 (.400) from the perimeter, and 22-for-28 (.786) at the charity stripe. ODU scored more points off turnovers (23-12), more second-chance points (14-5), more fast-break points (24-14) and more points off the bench (16-8). The team went 2-0 in the MAC-SBC Challenge and improves to 3-0 in the all-time series versus the Golden Flashes.

KSU scored the first five points of the contest before Buford and Cunningham scored a pair of layups to get the Monarchs going. The opening quarter was a stalemate from there until a Halima Salat deep ball and a pair of Fontana free throws put ODU ahead, 19-15 at the 1:23 mark.

The Golden Flashes led 28-27 late in the second quarter, but Buford out the Monarchs back in front with a jumper and another three-pointer. Orji then drew contact on a layup and made her ensuing free throw to make it a 33-28 ODU lead. The hosts then hit a long ball of their own with seven seconds left as ODU took a 33-31 advantage into the locker room.

ODU has a pair of home games next week as the Monarchs host Coastal Carolina at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday and Marshall at 2 p.m. next Saturday.

With the team heading into the later half of conference play and with a tight race at top of the Sun Belt standings, Milton-Jones was asked about what the team needs to do in order to separate itself from the rest of the pack.

"With each game having the weight that it does, it's imperative that we hone in on being disciplined with getting great possessions every time we have the ball. Defensively, we cannot allow teams to go on runs and we must guard without fouling. If we do these things, we will be able to control our destiny in terms of seeding when we get to Pensacola."