Southern Miss 84, Old Dominion 69
Once again, a team imposed its defensive will on the Lady Monarchs as the tenacious Golden Eagles scored 33 points off 29 ODU turnovers Thursday in a wire-to-wire victory. Southern Miss came into the game ranked 10th in Division I in turnovers forced so it was no secret the Golden Eagles would try to press ODU into submission. Still, it was stunning how quickly their style yielded dividends - Southern Miss led 10-0 before the game was two minutes old, with five of the points coming off turnovers. For the game, Old Dominion actually shot 50 percent from the field - its second-highest figure of the season - and won the rebounding battle by eight. Those are typically winning numbers. But the turnovers killed them.
It wasn't the first time a pesky defense has feasted on ODU mistakes. Nor was it the most glaring episode - on Dec. 20, Syracuse scored 41 points off 31 Old Dominion turnovers in a 92-66 victory. The word is out - if you come after these Lady Monarchs defensively, they'll spit the bit.
The loss dropped Old Dominion (7-9, 2-3 Conference USA) to 1-7 in road/neutral site games, and once again the team seems stuck in the type of midseason rut that has become all-too-familiar in recent years. There's still plenty of season left, and head coach Karen Barefoot's teams traditionally finish strong. But the hope was that this year's veteran-rich squad wouldn't need a late flurry of wins to salvage an otherwise middling regular season, that it could find consistent winning form more quickly. Performances like Thursday night indicate it hasn't quite come together yet. In fact, when faced with defensive pressure, too often it all comes apart.
What's our record?
Virginia Tech 15-1, 2-1 ACC; William and Mary 11-2, 1-1 CAA; Virginia 11-5, 0-3 ACC; Radford 11-3, 3-0 Big South; JMU 9-5, 2-1 ACC; VCU 9-9, 2-2 A-10; George Mason 9-9, 2-3 A-10; Richmond 8-9, 2-2 A-10; Hampton 8-7, 2-0 MEAC; Old Dominion 7-9, 2-3 C-USA; Norfolk State 7-7, 2-0 MEAC; Liberty 4-10, 3-0 Big South; Longwood 3-11, 0-3 Big South
It's a CAA Friday during which William and Mary and JMU will try to remain part of the pack chasing early frontrunner Elon (11-4, 3-0 CAA). The Phoenix, the only team still unbeaten in CAA play, are at Charleston (5-9, 2-1) Friday night.
Northeastern (6-9, 2-1 CAA) at William and Mary (11-2, 1-1), 7 p.m.
The Tribe's CAA home opener, and the team's first chance to respond to last Friday's 70-60 loss at Charleston that snapped its 11-game winning streak.
JMU (9-5, 2-1 CAA) at Delaware (7-7, 1-2), 7 p.m.
The Dukes have won eight straight in this series since a 61-60 setback at Delaware on Feb. 24, 2013. A Blue Hens victory would give head coach Tina Martin her 400th career coaching triumph.