Men's Basketball Gets 17 Point Victory in Season Opener
Trey Freeman poured in a game-high 20 points as Old Dominion Basketball extended its home winning streak to 25 games with a 67-50 victory over Niagara at the season opener on Friday night at the Ted Constant Center.
Freeman also finished with four rebounds, two assists and one steal, while senior guard Aaron Bacote, playing in his 100th game, added 18 points, three assists, two rebounds and one steal.
ODU held Niagara scoreless for nearly five-minutes during a 14-0 run to grab an 18-7 lead, with 10:30 left in the first-half.
The Monarchs took a 36-24 halftime lead into the locker room, with Freeman and Bacote combining for 23 points. They shot 51.7-percent from the field (15-of-29), while limiting the Eagles to 38.5-percent (10-of-26).
“I think they’re very good,” Niagara coach Chris Casey said. “They’re very well-coached. Their perimeter guys are terrific.”
Despite the 12 point lead, the crowd of 8,150 became frustrated and nervous early in the second-half.
Niagara silenced a raucous and boisterous crowd as they out-hustled and out-rebounded the Monarchs to cut the lead to five, with 12:59 left in the game. They tallied 14 offensive rebounds in the second half, which led to 14 second chance points, after only one in the first half. The Eagles came out aggressive on the boards and out-rebounded the Monarchs 24-18, as well as putting Old Dominion in foul trouble and were in the bonus for the final 15:20.
“They got some momentum, were hitting the glass,” Bacote said. “They weren’t really running any plays – just being aggressive. We just didn’t respond.”
“Defense!” and “Rebound!” could be heard from frustrated fans.
“Quite honestly, there were times tonight when we were challenged that, if we were grading on a pass/fail, we would have failed,” Coach Jeff Jones said. “In particular in the second-half, Niagara just flat out-hustled us. We were a step slow to the ball, too often didn’t secure it when we had the chance.”
However, the Eagles were unable to get any closer, when Nik Biberaj was fouled on a lay-up. He would make the free-throw to complete the three-point play to put ODU up by eight, with just over 10 minutes left in the game. Freeman, who was named to the Lute Olsen preseason All-American team, sank two free-throws and a jumper to extend the lead to 12, at the next media time-out.
“I am looking forward to getting back to practice tomorrow,” Freeman said. “I am not satisfied with this.”
Matt Scott recorded 19 points for the Eagles, while Justin Stachell added 12, including eight in the second-half.
The Monarchs were shorthanded and will be for an unknown amount of time, with Ambrose Mosley, Zaron Talley and Payton Pervier suspended for violating unspecified team rules.
“There’s certain standards of behavior and those guys didn’t live up to that,” Jones said. “Unfortunately, we’ll have to deal with that and these guys will shoulder a greater burden with them out.”