Monday, February 3, 2014

ODU-Marshall: "Are you kidding me?"

It's funny, if someone told you only the basics of Saturday night's Marshall-Old Dominion - Shae Kelley had 24 points and 17 rebounds as the Lady Monarchs beat the Thundering Herd by 13 points - you'd probably think, pretty routine, huh?

Yeah, right.

25 things about Saturday night at the Constant Center

Shae Kelley
- At the final media timeout with 3:50 to play, ODU trailed 48-38. Against the last-place team in Conference USA. With Marshall missing its best player. At home.

- The Lady Monarchs promptly scored the final 10 points of regulation, the first nine of overtime and 27 of the final 31.

- It all made for a rare night of late-game drama for the Lady Monarchs, whose typical M.O. has been to either win big or lose big. Only three ODU games have been decided by single digits this season.

- A big shoutout to an encouraging and extremely patient Lady Monarchs crowd that pounced on every opportunity to cheer the team on during a rough opening 36 minutes and was at full throat throughout ODU's fantastic finish. Frankly, for large stretches it looked like ODU was toast. Yet somehow, the fans never lost the faith. And when the crowd began chanting "O-D-U!" as the final seconds ticked off, well, let's just say that, for the first time in a while, it felt like old times in that building.

- ODU coach Karen Barefoot is now 2-0 on "Barefootin' Night." Coincidence?

- Of course it's coincidence! Nice little nugget, though.

- As is often the case with runs like this, ODU's defense keyed the surge, as the Lady Monarchs reduced the Thundering Herd's halfcourt offense to a series of east-west passes some 35 feet from the basket. Marshall had five turnovers and no field goal attempts over the final 3:50 of regulation.

- ODU forwards Shae Kelley and Chelisa Painter also started crushing it on the offensive boards. Kelley scored on a third-chance hoop and added a free throw to get the Lady Monarchs within six. The next time down court, Painter gobbled up a Becca Allison miss and stuck it back. And the next time, Painter collected the rebound of a Galaisha Goodhope miss, got fouled and made 1 of 2 from the line to get ODU within three.

- That's three possessions, four offensive rebounds if you're scoring at home.

- The combination of ferocious defense at one end and got-to-have-it rebounding at the other made it appear as though the Lady Monarchs were simply refusing to walk off the court losers.

- Which made us wonder, where was this attitude over the opening 36 minutes?

- Yet it all still might not have been enough if Kelley hadn't buried a 3-pointer with 23 seconds left to force the OT.

- At the time she released the shot, Kelley was 2 of 16 from 3-point range this season.

- Yet she said she knew it was good as soon as it left her hand.

- Confident young woman, that Shae.

- Still, we can't help thinking there were more than a few Lady Monarchs fans that, as Kelley rose up, were going "No, no, no...Yes!!!"

- Jotted down the following notes while watching the Lady Monarchs struggle through the first half:
   - Handing the ball like it's a ticking bomb
   - Cockeyed shooting aim.
   - Settle down! Thundering Herd D speeding ODU up; Lady Monarchs playing as though there's a 10-second shot clock.

- And those were the positives.

- In fairness to ODU, Marshall played much better than its record, particularly on defense.

- That said, that was as feeble an offensive 20 minutes as the Lady Monarchs have mustered all season.

- Since we didn't want to put the team on blast publicly, we kept it short and sweet on Twitter:

- In hopes of changing the dynamic, stayed in the press room as the second half began.

- Full disclosure - part of the reason was to keep tabs on the ridiculously good Duke-Syracuse men's basketball game airing on the press room TV (that C.J. Fair is the shizzle!). But I also hoped that when I returned to courtside, the real Lady Monarchs would have showed up.

- Unfortunately, when I peeked at the scoreboard, ODU was still down 12. So back I went to Duke-Syracuse.

- When I finally tore myself away from the Orange and the Blue Devils, about 15 (regulation) minutes remained in ODU-Marshall.

- Naturally, the Syracuse-Duke game turned out to be a classic.

- Fortunately, after a really, really, REALLY rough start, the Lady Monarchs wound up putting on a pretty memorable show, too.

Click here to read more about ODU's 65-52 victory over Marshall.

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