Sunday, February 5, 2012

Cook lifts ODU past Hofstra

Old Dominion 81, Hofstra 79:

Must be something about Hempstead, N.Y. that brings out the late-game heroine in the Lady Monarchs.

A year ago, in ODU's last trip to Hofstra, Kquanise Byrd scored with three seconds left to boost the Lady Monarchs past the Pride 79-77. Sunday, they did it again. Jackie Cook took a feed from Ashley Betz-White and laid it in with 2.7 seconds to go as the Lady Monarchs stung the Pride again for their most significant victory of the season.

Mairi Buchan scored a career-high 20 points to lead four Lady Monarchs in double figures in a game that followed a familiar ODU script. With Buchan going nuts early - 3 3s and 14 points in the opening seven minutes - the Lady Monarchs smacked the mighty Pride around through the first 20 minutes and led by 16 at halftime. It marked the ninth time in ODU's last 10 games the Lady Monarchs have been ahead at the half.

The Pride, meanwhile, has been the anti-ODU, continually falling behind early before coming on late. In the first meeting between the two teams, Hofstra trailed by five at halftime before rallying to win by 13. In their 100-97 victory over William and Mary, the Pride spotted the Tribe a 13-point first-half advantage. Last week's 68-61 victory at Drexel, they fell behind by 10 in the first half. You had to figure that eventually, living this dangerously would come back to bite the Pride in the butt. Sunday, though, they almost got away with it again.

It didn't hurt that Hofstra's great come-from-behind ability coincided with ODU's penchant for losing second-half leads.Still, the Lady Monarchs were able to hold them off until the 27-second mark when Deven Green made the second of two free throws to tie things at 79.

In a recent game at William and Mary, and again Wednesday at James Madison, the Lady Monarchs coughed up turnovers on their final possession and suffered losses. This time, Betz-White and Cook executed flawlessly and finally it was the Lady Monarchs doing the celebrating.

Tia Lewis added 15 points and 11 rebounds, Cook also had 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting and Betz-White chipped in 11 for ODU (8-15, 5-6 CAA). Shante Evans went for 31 points and 10 rebounds for Hofstra (16-6, 8-3), which paid dearly for digging such a huge first-half hole and suffered a serious smudge on its at-large NCAA Tournament resume.

Meanwhile, a resurgent ODU is looking more and more like a team no one wants to play.

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