NORFOLK -- Frank Hassell was ready to play. The 6-foot-9 senior post player from Chesapeake scored the first eight points for Old Dominion as the Monarchs defeated Towson 80-57 Saturday at the Constant Center. A crowd of 8,181 loved it.
But in the first 15 minutes, Towson (4-17, 0-11) did not play like a team at the bottom of the Colonial Athletic Association standings. The score was tied five times and there were eight lead changes in the first 20 minutes.
The Tigers shot 45.8 percent in the first half and were 5-of-9 from 3-point range. They led 24-21 with 5:49 to play in the first half.
But ODU (17-5, 8-3) battled back, taking a 25-24 lead on Kent Bazemore's dunk. Soon it was 27-27, but after opening the game with hot shooting, the Tigers cooled off.
ODU moved ahead by 34-27 at the half. The Monarchs held the visitors without a field goal during the final 3:31 and held an 18-7 edge in rebounds in the opening half.
The Monarchs began the second half with five quick points to pull ahead, 39-27. They moved to a 50-36 advantage with 13:45 left as Hassell sank two free throws. ODU eased away to lead 60-44 with 7:50 remaining. The lead was built as ODU found the 3-point shot. Bazemore and Trian Illiadis each hit three shots from beyond the arc in the game.
Towson did not attempt a free throw until only 6:17 showed on the clock, as the Tigers took jumpers rather than drive for the basket.
Bazemore led the ODU scoring with 17 points. Hassell had 16 and Keyon Carter added 13. Eight Monarchs scored.
Towson's Josh Brown led all scorers with 19 points.
ODU scored 41 of its points in the lane, and the bench contributed 26 points. The Monarchs shot 62.7 percent, including 9-of-15 from the 3-point line. They were 7-of-10 on free throws. The rebounding advantage was huge, 33-12. Hassell pulled down 10 rebounds.
"We told the team this would be a big week," said ODU coach Blaine Taylor, whose team won three games in a row during the week and has won five of six. "We really wanted to come out the second half and increase the lead. We passed well and moved when we should have."
The win was the second this season for ODU over Towson, but was by a much bigger score than the four-point road victory Jan. 3. The Monarchs are 25-1 all time against Towson and have won 16 straight against the Maryland squad.
Old Dominion, which moved into a third-place tie with Hofstra, next will be in action Wednesday, playing host to Delaware.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun