It was an energetic and lively crowd at the Ted Constant Convocation Center last Saturday night as Old Dominion hosted the Georgia State Panthers in a CAA conference game. Coached by Ron Hunter, the Panthers kept a strong lead the entire duration of the game, rarely allowing the Monarchs to make the score close in the second half. Like the Monarchs, the Panthers have a fairly young team with many of their players being either a freshman or a sophomore. Although both CAA teams were evenly matched, Georgia State’s aggressive zone defense proved to be too difficult of a challenge for Old Dominion’s offense as the Monarchs lost by a final score of 54-69. Although disappointed, Old Dominion head coach Blaine Taylor offered an optimistic approach on the struggling Monarch’s season. “These kids are getting academic and athletic experiences- we’re going to keep playing basketball. This is a game we love and we [have got to] move forward in the competition.”
The first half started out slow, with the game going back and forth between Old Dominion and Georgia State. At nine minutes remaining, the Panthers pulled ahead after Manny Atkins hit a three-point field goal bringing the score to 19-11. Monarchs’ guard Donte Hill stepped up on offense after this run by providing the offense with scoring opportunities and attacking the Panthers’ zone. Hill also proved to be a strong defender in this half, forcing a number of Georgia State turnovers. He finished the first half with 10 total points and four total rebounds with three of these rebounds being on the defensive end.
Moving into the end of the first half, the game picked up and transitioned into a faster pace battle between two teams. The Panthers persisted on playing their different zone defense as Old Dominion played an aggressive and tight man-to-man defense. At 1 minute and a half remaining, Donte Hill scored a key three-point field goal that brought ODU up to a one-point difference, 22-23. The last minute of the first half was intense as Georgia State’s R.J Hunter hit a three-point field goal and Old Dominion’s Dimitri Batten responded with another three-point field goal with 41 seconds left. R.J Hunter then scored his third three point field goal of the half and Georgia State closed the first half leading 29-25.
The second half opened with Old Dominion’s Dimitri Batten sparking the Monarchs and bringing some much needed intensity back into the game. Batten made key blocks and assists during the second half, being a significant contributor to the score as well. Batten had 14 total points, four total rebounds and went 3-5 in three point field goals and field goals attempted.
Unfortunately his valiant effort was not enough. The Panthers took control of the game largely due to the efforts of Lawson and Hunter and led by double digits for most of the second half on their way to the victory. “Our goal is to keep teams under 60. Offensively these guys [Monarchs] are really talented. We played seven different defenses tonight and when we do that, we’re pretty good.” Georgia State head coach Ron Hunter said after the game.
Old Dominion will be back on the hardwood on Saturday as they travel to James Madison University and attempt to get back in the win column.
By: Sarah Condon