NORFOLK — For Old Dominion, the highlights were the fiery pregame introductions, the individual artistry of Shae Kelley, several Tiffany Minor moments and a couple of offensive rebound sequences.
By the end of Saturday’s game, most of the noise at the Constant Center came from the Tulane bench as the Green Wave finished off a 92-62 kneecapping of the Lady Monarchs.
“They were definitely more aggressive than us,” ODU coach Karen Barefoot said. “It was aggressive play at all spots, in every position. We’ve got to be able to be aggressive. That’s the key. You play in this conference, that’s the difference. We saw that in Charlotte, too. We’ve got to be tougher. We’ve got to be able to do all the little things really, really well.”
ODU (7-9, 0-2 Conference USA) opened league play with its second consecutive face-plant, following an 80-59 loss at Charlotte on Wednesday in its conference debut.
Tulane handed the Lady Monarchs their most lopsided loss since a 90-37 decision at Tennessee on Dec. 28, 2011, and their most one-sided home loss since a 74-44 wax job by the Lady Volunteers on Dec. 5, 2010.
“I’m not going to take anything from them,” said Minor, who scored 17 points. “They’re a good team. But I definitely think we could have played harder and been more aggressive all around. We can’t have just one or two people. We’ve got to have everybody … we talk about everybody has to have heart and give everything every time.”
ODU’s loss was even more dispiriting, given that Tulane (11-4, 2-0 C-USA) played Thursday night at Marshall in a 9 o’clock game, traveled Friday, arrived in Norfolk later than scheduled, and the Green Wave players slept in Saturday morning.
The Green Wave certainly didn’t appear fatigued or compromised. It shot a season-best 57 percent from the field, made 9 of 18 from 3-point range, held a 12-rebound edge and had 26 assists on 36 baskets. Its perimeter shooters consistently got open looks against ODU’s zone defense, and the Wave often carved up the Lady Monarchs’ man-to-man defense. Tulane turned 15 offensive rebounds into 21 second-chance points.
“I can say by far that’s the best game we played all year,” Tulane coach Lisa Stockton said. “I do believe Old Dominion’s got a nice team. I think, athletically, we were really afraid of just their ability to get in the lane and score on us. We did a nice job with that and got some momentum, and they just kind of got some confidence when shots went in.”
Defensively, Tulane’s 1-3-1 zone often flummoxed the Lady Monarchs. ODU trailed 41-22 at halftime, its second-lowest point total in a half this season, and shot just 37.9 percent from the field. Kelley (19 points) and Minor combined to hit 13 of 24 shots. Their teammates made just 9 of 34 shots.
“I think we got discouraged when we went through an offensive drought where we didn’t score in the first half,” Barefoot said. “We hung our head down and they started to attack us. We had to be aggressive. You’ve got to move your feet. You’ve got to respond back. It’s things like that, that we’ve got to mature and we’ve got to grow and get better.”
Though ODU has shot worse than 38 percent the past two games, the players and coaches are more concerned about the other end of the floor.
“What we need to do is get back to the basics and get back to the foundation of who we are, which is a defensive-minded team,” guard Stephanie Gardner said. “Get back to rebounding. If we get back to the fundamentals of who we are, we’ll give ourselves a chance, and we haven’t done that the last two games.”
ODU was picked to finish sixth in its inaugural season in Conference USA. Tulane was picked third and Charlotte fourth. The Lady Monarchs still must face preseason favorites Middle Tennessee State and Texas-El Paso, and their next test is against a Southern Miss team that’s 13-2.
“We need to build on high energy,” Barefoot said. “That’s the kind of team that we are — identity-wise. We’ve just got to really settle in and get back to having energy on defense and get back to blocking out and get excited about the little things. Once we’re excited about a few things, this team gets on runs. When we get on a run, we’re feeling good about ourselves. You can’t get down on yourself in this conference. There’s no time.”
Kelley, a 6-foot junior, is clearly the Lady Monarchs’ best player and provides an honest and productive effort every day. Barefoot said that they need stronger leadership and direction from their point guards, that too often the team appears “disconnected” and tentative.
Though the Lady Monarchs have lost four of five, they still believe that the ingredients are in place to be an upper-tier team.
“We’re encouraged,” Gardner said. “It’s a long season. I’m a senior, so I understand how the tide can turn so quickly. There’s a lot of basketball to be played. We want to be playing our best — obviously, we want to be playing good now — but we want to be playing our best later on.
“This isn’t a basketball team that’s discouraged or feels like we can’t win. We’ve just got to put some things together and reidentify who we are and keep it moving. We’ll be fine.”
TULANE 92, OLD DOMINION 62
TULANE (11-4, 2-0): Ebomwonyi 4-6 0-0 8, Dale 6-9 2-2 14, Jones 0-2 1-2 1, Blagg 8-15 2-2 22, Kaplan 5-8 2-2 12, LaFloe 0-0 0-0 0, Magee 1-1 0-0 3, Vorpahl 6-11 3-4 18, Latham 2-3 0-0 5, Blankenship 0-0 0-0 0, Rogers 1-2 1-2 3, Duru 3-6 0-1 6. Totals 36-63 11-15 92.
ODU (7-9, 0-2): Kelley 6-12 7-10 19, Painter 0-2 0-0 0, Minor 7-12 0-2 17, Gardner 2-8 1-2 6, Goodhope 2-10 0-0 5, Brandao 0-0 0-0 0, Allison 3-5 3-3 9, Ajemba 0-0 0-0 0, Younger 0-4 0-0 0, Oigbokie 2-4 2-2 6, Young 0-0 0-0 0, Richards 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 22-58 13-19 62.
Half: Tulane 41-22. 3-point goals: Tulane 9-18 (Blagg 4-8, Vorpahl 3-5, Magee 1-1, Latham 1-1, Ebomwonyi 0-1, Kaplan 0-2), ODU 5-25 (Minor 3-8, Goodhope 1-4, Gardner 1-5, Kelley 0-2, Allison 0-2, Younger 0-4). Rebounds: Tulane 40 (Dale, Blagg 7), ODU 28 (Kelley 10). Assists: Tulane 26 (Kaplan, Vorpahl 9), ODU 7 (Goodhope, Allison 2). Fouls: Tulane 16, ODU 12. A: 2,158.
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