ODU 50, UTEP 48: UTEP Falls in Heartbreaking Fashion to Old Dominion
After battling back down from as much as 11 points, the Miners had seven seconds left in regulation to tie the Monarchs, who led 50-48 coming out of a Rodney Terry timeout.
An inbound to Jordan Lathon, followed by Lathon's pass to Efe Odigie looked to be a perfect opportunity for the Miners to score in the low post.
A little too perfect.
The Monarchs trapped Odigie down low and forced a jump ball, which gave them the final possession and allowed ODU to run out the clock for the win.
"We worked that play many times throughout the course of the year," head coach Rodney Terry said. "We're down two, want to put it into one of our better playmaking guards. You have to put young guys in positions like that so they can make the plays one day. It could have been an and-one at the end of the day."
"Jordan tried to make a pass to Efe underneath. [Jordan's] 6-4. One day he's going to dunk that ball."
"We compete, do what we do to win games, not play close," Terry concluded. "Close isn't good enough; we play to win. We gotta put 40 minutes in the book and win some games."
Old Dominion led by 11 with 8:49 left in the game and Terry called a timeout for his players to regroup. The Miners responded with a 7-0 run of their own to cut it to a two-score game (44-40).
Between back-and-forth scoring, the Miners again found themselves down by two, but could not close the gap in the end.
Odigie, who finished the first half scoreless, charged through in the second half and finished with his eighth career double-double (13 points, 12 rebounds).
"He responded," Terry said. "I was on him pretty hard in terms of his energy level, his body language and giving us the lift we need. I always want us to play inside out, not outside in. You have to have an inside presence, and he's given that to us all year long. He struggled in the first half and responded in a big way and showed a lot of perseverance."
Still, it was abysmal shooting on both ends. Old Dominion led the way at 30 percent (20-of-65), while UTEP shot 25.9 percent (15-of-58) from the floor. Both teams were 30 percent at 3-point range.
"We didn't shoot the ball well, they didn't shoot the ball well. I thought we continued to battle, I thought our guys even down in the stretch offensively and defensively put us in a good situation to win," Terry said.
Both teams underwent a strange first half, filled with turnovers, poor shooting and a back-and-forth battle.
Similarly, each team struggled to score early on, with leads being traded four separate times. The Miners fell considerably in the shooting category, shooting just 19 percent from the floor, which fell as low as 11 percent early on.
Fortunately for the Miners, the Monarchs weren't much better on offense.
Old Dominion was on par with the Miners, flirting around 20 percent from the floor for the majority of the first half. It wasn't until the Monarchs broke away at the end of the half, with the help of Ahmad Caver's 10 points, and wrapped up the first half shooting 26 percent from the floor.
Nigel Hawkins and Kobe Magee each had five points at the end of the first half, while Odigie and Gilyard hit a brick wall in shooting to start off, as both finished the half shooting 0-for-6.
Gilyard also broke out of the half and ended the game with seven points, six rebounds and three assists for UTEP.
Justice Kithcart led the Monarchs with four 3-pointers off the bench and finished with 16 points. Their two leading scorers in B.J. Stith and Ahmad Caver struggled to get baskets to fall, as they finished at a combined 10-for-34 from the floor.
Next up, the Miners (6-12, 1-6 C-USA) will host Charlotte on Saturday at the Don Haskins Center.