Monarchs roar back, but fall short to Drexel on senior nightOn a night that Monarch nation said their final goodbyes to seniors DeShawn Painter and Nick Wright, Old Dominion captured their twenty-fifth loss of the season, to the Drexel Dragons, despite 15 points apiece from senior DeShawn Painter freshman Aaron Bacote and a solid 14 from junior Donte Hill.Thursday night contest was a tale of two halves. The first half was simply dominated by Drexel and their ability to capitalize off of rebounds, turnovers and wide open three point shots. Standout sophomore guard Damion Lee was the star of the first half. He was simply unconscious; he made every single shot attempt in the first half, including an astounding 6-6 from the three-point range. In the first match up with the Monarchs this season, Lee did not score on 0-6 shooting. “These are shooters rims,” Lee jokingly said after tonight’s game. In his first career game at the Ted Constant Center last year he scored 28 points. On this night, he finished with 34 points, connecting on 11 of his 13 shots. Monarchs interim coach Jim Corrigan said, “One of the adjustments on Lee was just to stay with him,” in man-to-man situations, “don’t worry about help” after he torched ODU in the first half. “He came looking for a vengeance, he shot the ball very well in the first half, we kinda slowed it down in the second half, not good enough though,” said Aaron Bacote.The Monarchs found themselves down by as many as 15 in the first half. Every time they tried to chip away at the lead they committed a costly turnover. There were many missed defensive assignments and times where they looked flat out lost. On the offensive end, there was too much standing around, which caused the Monarchs to force up some untimely jumpers connecting on 10 of their 22 first half shots. However towards the end of the half they began to figure it out, closing the lead to as low as 10, trailing by 12 at intermission.
The Monarchs woke up in the second half, playing man-to-man defense. “We played really good [defense] from the middle of the first half on,” Corrigan said.
The momentum of the game began to swing in the Monarchs favor when, DeShawn Painter hit a three just as an away from the ball foul was called simultaneously, with 13:18 remaining in the game. On the subsequent inbounds Dimitri Batten nailed a three, thus garnering a six point ODU possession. The crowd got into the game after that, bringing a tournament-like atmosphere into the arena. The Monarchs continued to gnaw away at the lead and with 10:47 remaining in the game, Nick Wright scored on a lay-up that tied the game at 53. After Drexel pushed the lead back up to 9, the Monarchs roared back with one more ferocious rally. After the Dragons junior forward Frantz Massenat converted on what seemed to be a dagger, Monarchs junior Donte Hill converted a three point play with 44.2 seconds left to trim the lead to three. “It’s a play where I set a screen for Richard, or whoever is the post on that side, and they come back for a lob I think, it was open in the first half, so when I set the screen on the first guy, I rolled to the ball and Aaron made a good play to get it to me,” Hill added on his big time play after the game. Monarchs would have an opportunity down two with six seconds remaining to tie or take the lead but would turn the ball over, in turn losing 81-77.Corrigan was proud of his team’s effort once again. “Extremely proud of how the kids played tonight, falling behind like they did early it would’ve been real easy to quit but, they did a great job of coming back, tied it up and then fell behind by nine again, and they came back again, they played with a lot of heart tonight didn’t get it done, but you can’t ask for more out of a team.”This is most likely the final time Old Dominion and Drexel face off because the Monarchs are moving to the Conference USA. Dragons head coach Bruiser Flint gave much credit to the Monarchs, paying homage to what they meant to the Colonial Athletic Association.“ Old Dominion is one of the schools that made the CAA what it is, since I’ve been in the league. Blaine did an unbelievable job here, they won games got into the tournament, they helped build the reputation, as one of the top major leagues in the country. They had good teams, when you talk about CAA, you talk about, George Mason, ODU and VCU, they were bench mark programs in the CAA, they helped build the reputation.” The Monarchs fall to 4-25 on the season, with a 2-15 record in conference, while Drexel improved to 12-17, 8-9 in the CAA.By: Brian Saunders,Contributing Writer