Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Top 5 ODU wins under Karen Barefoot


Old Dominion's 72-71 victory over Louisiana Tech Sunday, which featured Annika Holopainen's breakout (in a Lady Monarchs uniform) performance, several other strong efforts and a last-second, contested, game-winning 3-pointer (Holopainen again), was surely among the team's best wins during the Karen Barefoot era (since 2011-12).

But was it the best? Hmmm....

Well, as long as you asked, here's how we'd rank the top five:

5. Old Dominion 68, Navy 60 
March 20, 2014

   - This WNIT first-rounder marked the Lady Monarchs' first postseason national tournament victory since 2010 (a 63-55 win over American, also in the WNIT first round). It was also the night Shae Kelley became the fifth player in the program's storied history to crack the 1,000-point barrier in her first two seasons. But the night belonged to senior point guard Michelle Brandao, whose career had been marked by misfortune virtually from the day she arrived on campus. An NCAA suspension cost her the first year and a half of her career; an ACL tear shelved her again eight games after she finally got back on the court. But just when the final curtain was about to fall, the Brandao story went from "what if?" to "watch this!" Pressed into full-time service after an injury to starting point guard Galaisha Goodhope, the Portuguese prodigy dissected Navy to the tune of eight points, nine assists and no turnovers in 37 where-did-that-come-from minutes. It turned out to be the final home game of Brandao's career. But what a way to go out, huh?

4. Old Dominion 92, Southern Miss 82 
January 15, 2014

 - Southern Miss came in having won 12 straight at home; the Lady Monarchs limped into Hattiesburg with a 7-9 record and after being spanked badly at the Constant Center by Charlotte (a 21-point loss) and Tulane (a 32-point setback) in their first two Conference USA games. And here's the thing - it wasn't as though the Lady Eagles had an off night. Old Dominion simply dialed up one of the best offensive performances in recent program history. Five Lady Monarchs - Shae Kelley, Chelisa Painter, Galaisha Goodhope, Tiffany Minor and Stephanie Gardner - all finished in double figures. And as a team, the Lady Monarchs shot an eye-popping 60.3 percent from the field, tied for the best by an ODU team in at least 10 years. Southern Miss would finish the year with a 25-7 record and an RPI of 36, making this statistically the program's best win in the Barefoot era.

3. Old Dominion 80, Florida International 67 
January 29, 2015

 - Not sure the game was that great, but it featured a performance for the ages - Jennie Simms etched her name in Old Dominion's star-studded record book by scoring 45 points, the second-most in program history. An effort like that deserves a spot on any list of superlatives.

2. Old Dominion 77, Alabama 76 
November 24, 2011

   - The Lady Monarchs were 0-4 when they arrived in the Virgin Islands for this Paradise Jam opener. The teams' play in the first half belied this, though, as the Lady Monarchs, while turnover-prone, shot a ridiculous 68 percent in an opening 20 minutes during which they led by as many as 14. The Crimson Tide scrambled back into it, and the two teams traded punches until a free throw with 11 seconds left put Alabama ahead 76-75. The sequence that followed was as surprising as it was stunning: forward Shakeva Richards, who wasn't exactly known for her ballhandling, dribbled upcourt and fed Becca Allison, a speedy attack-the-rim guard who wasn't exactly known for her jump shot. Naturally, Allison created space with her dribble and a spin move,then confidently drained a jumper from the left elbow with 1.2 seconds left for the game-winner. It was the team's first victory under Barefoot, and easily the most exciting until....

1. Old Dominion 72, Louisiana Tech 71 
February 22, 2015

 - Why this game for No. 1? Because while it's a great game in its own right, it also combines many of the best elements of the previous four. It has the unlikely hero virtue of the win over Navy. The road warrior element of Nos. 2, 3 and 4. And the quality win factor of the Southern Miss game - Louisiana Tech's RPI of 125 makes this Old Dominion's second-best RPI win of the season (VCU, 124) and best on the road. In addition, the game played out on regional television so even casual fans had a chance to check it out.

Here's hoping those that did stuck around for the fantastic finish.

So that's our five. What's yours?

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