Frank Hassell's strength was on full display Wednesday night — both the physical and mental variety.
Hassell, Old Dominion's 6-foot-9, 260-pound forward, had a game-high 21 points and 11 of the Monarchs' 44 rebounds in a 69-53 victory at William and Mary on Wednesday night. His ninth double-double came on the same day his uncle, Leroy Rountree Hassell, the first African-American chief justice on the Virginia Supreme Court, died at age 55.
"I didn't really mention it to anybody," Hassell said. "I didn't really talk to anybody. I just wanted to play basketball."
Hassell did just that, scoring the Monarchs' first three points and assisting on two of their next three baskets as ODU (19-6, 10-4 CAA) built an early nine-point lead. He had 10 first-half points and five first-half rebounds as the Monarchs began building a huge rebounding edge that ended up at 44-21, including a 14-1 advantage on the offensive glass.
"He scored some baskets, but he made some really nice passes early in the game, and I think that made them honest," Monarchs coach Blaine Taylor said. "That's something Frank has gotten better at, so that we can run our offense through him instead of to him."
The Tribe didn't score from Britt's fall away bank shot with 18:13 to play in the first half until Quinn McDowell's 3-pointer with 12:35 before halftime, but William and Mary cut the lead to 21-19 on another three from McDowell with 7:25 to go in the first half. The lead bulged to 10 on Kent Bazemore's steal and slam, and the Monarchs led 33-25 at the break.
Things unraveled quickly in the second half, when the Tribe scored just two baskets in the first 11:24 and were outscored 19-6 in the first eight minutes as the Monarchs opened up a 54-32 lead.
"We didn't play very well. It was disappointing," said William and Mary junior forward Quinn McDowell, who had 13 points. "In the first half, I kept thinking there were opportunities to close the gap. … In the second half, we just made too many mistakes, especially early on."
Freshman guards Brandon Britt and Julian Boatner provided bright spots for the Tribe (7-18, 3-11 CAA), combining for 28 points on 10-of-20 shooting, including a 5-of-6 performance by Boatner from 3-point range. Britt, the first William and Mary rookie since the 1974-75 season to score in double digits in eight straight games, made it nine with 12 points, while Boatner had a team-high 15.
Britt scored the Tribe's first five points and took five of its first eight shots, finishing the first half with eight points, but Hassell matched his early aggressiveness. ODU shot 46.4 percent in the first half and outscored the Tribe 20-6 in the paint, an advantage that swelled to 42-10 for the game. The Monarchs, outrebounding opponents by 10 1/2 boards per game, had 21 second-chance points. The Tribe had none.
"Rebounding's the key to their success," William and Mary coach Tony Shaver said. "We thought if we could stay in the rebounding game with them, we'd have a chance to win the ball game, but they dominated the boards.
" … I really think if Old Dominion shoots the ball the way they shot the ball tonight, there's nobody they can't beat."
Bazemore added 14 points and had a game-high 12 rebounds for ODU.
"With a guy like (Hassell) on your team, it's easy to get 12 boards," Bazemore said. "Defenses focus on him, and I can just fly above everybody's heads.
"I'm glad he's on my team. I say it every game."