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ODU Women Shoot Poorly and Fall to James Madison in Final Regular-Season Basketball game

Bruce Butler

Kaye Clark had 12 points, three steals and two assists for ODU

By Harry Minium
NORFOLK, Va. – Basketball can be a simple game, and in its final regular-season contest Friday night, the Old Dominion women's basketball team lost for one simple reason – the Monarchs could not find a way to put the ball in the basket.
ODU made just 20 of 80 shots, a meager shooting percentage of 25 percent, and fell to James Madison, 70-58, before a Chartway Arena crowd of 4,342, the largest of the season.
The loss had little impact on ODU's postseason play, as the Monarchs (21-8 overall, 12-6 Sun Belt) get a bye through the first two rounds of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament. They will play Friday at 3 p.m. in Pensacola, Florida, in the quarterfinals against the winner of a second-round game.
The second-round game, to be played Wednesday at 6 p.m., will feature Louisiana-Monroe and either Georgia Southern or Texas State. Georgia Southern and Texas State, which finished tied for 12th, meet Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. for the right to take on ULM.
ODU head coach DeLisha Milton-Jones said her team wasn't particularly focused and that the Monarchs often got away from their game plan.
ODU's guards played aggressive defense, but the front-court players allowed JMU eight layups in the first quarter alone.
Meanwhile, the Monarchs often settled for long-range shots rather than try to penetrate an active JMU zone defense.
JMU (21-8, 12-6) made 15 of 59 shots, 43 percent, after shooting 60 percent through most of the first half.
ODU took 21 more shots than the Dukes and were just 4 of 21 on three-pointers and 14 of 21 from the foul line. The taller and more muscular Dukes out rebounded ODU, 70-58.

WBB-2024 Senior Day group photo
ODU's nine seniors honored on Senior Night with their families.  

ODU scored 18 points off 22 JMU turnovers, but that was not nearly enough to make up deficits in other areas.

"It was one of those nights when the iron was extremely unkind to us," Milton-Jones said. "We had 21 more possessions than our opponent and could not capitalize.
"We were just not good enough tonight. We did a lot of things to hurt ourselves. It was just an ugly game for us on both ends of the court."
ODU trailed by 12 early in the third quarter and scored five consecutive points to cut the lead to seven, 42-35, three minutes later.

But JMU then went on a 12-0 run, capped by a Peyton McDaniel layup with 59 seconds left in the period, to take a 19-point lead that put the game out of reach. The Dukes expanded the lead to as much as 24 points in the fourth quarter.
Brenda Fontana rebounded from an atrocious shooting night earlier in the week against Georgia Southern, and led the Monarchs with 14 points. She added six rebounds and three steals.
Kaye Clarke added 12 points and two assists and three steals.
Senior Night activities might have been a distraction. Usually, players are honored prior to a game, but Milton-Jones said she was trying to avoid the pre-game emotions that sometimes lead to a poor first quarter on Senior Night, and the ceremony was held following the game.
"I don't know whether it backfired on me or not, but we just could never find our rhythm," she said.
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En'Dya Buford has six points and six rebounds for ODU.  

Nine players were honored on Senior Night – Fontana, Clark, Jordan McLaughlin, En'Dya Buford, Jenny Nkem Womsi, Lanetta Williams, Joy Campbell, Ivi Nikolova and Nnenna Orji.
McLaughlin, Clark and Williams are the only seniors who are without remaining eligibility. The other six can return next season, and most have indicated they will.
Milton-Jones said she's glad she has seven days to get her team ready for the Sun Belt Tournament.
The Monarchs would have to win three games in four days to claim the Sun Belt title and the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

ODU would likely meet regular-season champion Marshall in the semifinals and then JMU in the championship game.
"We can win three in a row," she said. "I love the position we are in. Winning three games in a row is a lot better than having to win four in a row, which is where we would be if we had not finished among the top four teams.
"We're all looking forward to Pensacola. It's just a matter of us going back to the drawing board, getting people rested and healthy so that when we are on the court, we can put on the show that I know we're capable of doing."