ODU men use late run close out Norfolk State in crosstown matchup

by Jamaar Hawkins, i64sports

Wednesday night’s anticipated matchup between Norfolk State and Old Dominion was one 50 plus years in the making. Although the two schools’ football programs have matchup up in recent years, the mens’ basketball teams had failed to play in a contest.

With COVID-19 altering regular season schedules across the country perhaps destiny or sheer necessity set up Wednesday’s rare matchup. The current pandemic also wiped away the Spartans’ biggest advantage: home court advantage. No fans were allowed into Echols Hall for the contest.

Old Dominion never trailed in the ballgame, jumping out to an 11-0 lead less than three minutes into the contest.

Junior forward Joe Reece led Old Dominion with 16 points on 6-10 shooting from the floor to go along with four rebounds. ODU head coach Jeff Jones mentioned the play of Reece during the postgame press conference as a tipping point in the game.

“Joe Reece was really big especially on the boards. We knew coming into here it wasn’t going to be an easy game. We knew we needed to match {Norfolk State’s} energy,” Jones noted.

Four ODU players finished in double figures as the Monarchs shot 41 percent from the field and convert 85 percent from the charity stripe. As Jones noted, Old Dominion also held a significant advantage on the boards, outrebounding Norfolk State 40-29.

Jones also wanted to move past much of the pregame chatter involving the teams’ lack of regular season matchups despite being less than five minutes away from each other. Although he acknowledged the social media banter did effect his players who responded with unwavering energy early in the game.

“Norfolk State has a quality program. I respect them. But obviously our guys read what’s on social media,” Jones added.

The Spartans, who were looking to secure the first 3-0 start in program history, hung around for the most of the game cutting the lead to 1 late in the second half but were never able to overtake Old Dominion. Each time Norfolk State went on a run, ODU found a response. Every single time.

“We just couldn’t get that stop we needed,” NSU head coach Robert Jones said after the game.

Norfolk Collegiate graduate Kyonze Chavis finished with 12 points off the bench. Daryl Anderson contributed 17 points for Norfolk State for return to action on Monday night vs rival Hampton. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00pm at Joseph Echols Hall.

-Jamaar Hawkins