William and Mary made them sweat for it, but Old Dominion continued its dominance over the Tribe with a 70-65 win in Norfolk Thursday.
After playing miserably in the first half, the Tribe (3-23, 2-14) stormed back in the second and led by as much as five down the stretch. But in the final minutes of the game big shots from some of the Lady Monarchs’s role players proved the difference, extending Old Dominion’s win streak over the College to 52, tying a Division I women’s record.
“The team you saw in the first half was the 3-23 team and the team you saw in the second half was the team we can be,” Head Coach Debbie Taylor said.
In the first half, bad shooting from both the field (36 percent for the first) and the stripe (8-15) plagued the Tribe, and a poorly-executed attempt at a full-court press led to some easy baskets for the Lady Monarchs.
Still, the College wouldn’t let it get out of hand, and as soon as Old Dominion stretched the lead to 12 with less than a minute remaining in the first, the Tribe responded with a 7-2 run that stretched into the second. Old Dominion also offered a hand, repeatedly giving the College opportunities from the line by entering the double bonus with over five minutes left.
Five quick points — including a contested, buzzer-beating three-pointer from sophomore center Emily Correal — kept the deficit at a manageable 7 going into the break.
“I raised my voice a little bit,” Taylor said of her halftime speech. “[The first half] might’ve been the worst half of basketball we’ve played all year,” she said.
The Tribe responded, catching fire as soon as it returned from the locker roomand the Lady Monarchs at 37 with 16 minutes remaining on a jumpshot from freshman center Kaitlyn Mathieu.
From there on out the two teams went back-and-forth, fighting for a lead that changed hands six times in total. The College pushed its advantage to as much as five with just over eight minutes left, but the Lady Monarchs stayed close, and with 4 minutes, 10 seconds remaining, Monarch guard JoNiquia Guilford – a back-up averaging just 4.7 points per game – took over, getting a steal and hitting three consecutive jumpshots to give Old Dominion a five point lead, the eventual difference in the game.
“They made a shot and we didn’t, that’s pretty much it in the last few minutes,” Taylor said.
The College was led by junior guard Taysha Pye — who finished with 17 points, six rebounds and four assists — and Mathieu, who contributed 12 points and eight boards.
“It’s been like this all year. We can play with these teams, we just [have to] play the whole game like we played most of the second half,” said Pye.
The team and its opponents, though, have taken note of how close the Tribe seems from breaking out in its last few games. The loss comes on the heels of the Tribe’s third win of the season, which followed two hard-fought overtime losses.
“That’s the best three-win team I’ve seen in a long time,” Old Dominion Head Coach Wendy Larry said. “That’s a team you [have to] look out for in the tournament.”