The blizzard that is the Colonial Athletic Association leading Northeastern Huskies (16-8,11-1) proved to be too much to handle for Old Dominion (3-21,1-11), defeating the Monarchs 79-74 in overtime Saturday afternoon at the Ted Constant Center.
In their second game under interim head coach Jim Corrigan, the Monarchs displayed heart and valiancy, led by redshirt sophomore Dimitri Batten’s career high 25 points, followed by senior DeShawn Painter with 15 points and a career high 16 rebounds. However, their effort was thwarted by the half-court assault of Joel Smith, who lead the Huskies with an impressive 27 points.
The Monarchs sent the game into overtime by way of crafty and patient penetration by freshman Aaron Bacote in the final seconds, setting up an easy finish for Painter with 0.3 seconds left in regulation at 66-66.
Throughout the game, intensity on the boards created an astonishing 24 second chance points for the monarchs. Although outrebounded 21-7 on the offensive glass, the Huskies crashed the boards when it mattered most, notably a second possession leading to a daggering three-pointer by Jonathan Lee in what was a haymaker the Monarchs could not recover from.
While the monarchs shot an abysmal 1 for 26 from three-point territory, the Monarchs’ gritty effort on the boards shined radiantly Saturday afternoon, leaving Corrigan with much to be pleased about. “We made a lot of big plays on the offensive glass,” Corrigan said. “I kept telling my team during halftime that ‘we’re going to make a three in the second half,’ which we did not, but for us to make it into overtime against the best time in the league while shooting like that speaks to the effort and heart that our team played with.”
Although a loss is no doubt a tough pill to swallow, Jim Corrigan praised his team’s performance immensely. “I was more proud of them today than I was Thursday night [against Drexel],” Corrigan said. “Tonight we were constantly down, having to fight back… and we gave ourselves a chance to win the game.”
While the performances of Batten and Painter should not be overlooked, the unsung hero for the Monarchs has emerged in the form of redshirt sophomore Richard Ross, averaging 11.8 points over the last five contests and providing the spark for the Monarchs on both ends of the court. Ross’ stellar play was definitely appreciated late in the fourth, delivering a huge chase-down block in transition, creating a much needed possession for the Monarchs which resulted in a hoop plus the foul for Painter.
Following their 12-point thrashing of the Drexel Dragons in Philadelphia Thursday evening and a more-than-impressive outing against the Huskies, the Monarchs record clearly does not define the team. If one thing is for certain, this band of brothers is intent on restoring the roar that all are accustomed to. “We just kept fighting,” Batten said. “Our slogan is ‘together,’ and we keep reminding ourselves of that. I would not trade these guys and coach Corrigan for nothing in the world.”
By Eric Guy