NORFOLK, Va. — Heading into Monday night’s game, Mount St. Mary’s coach Jamion Christian already knew Old Dominion was bigger and stronger.
He then discovered the Monarchs are quite a bit deeper, too.
Forward Javonte Douglas responded to his first start with a game-high 16 points and nine rebounds, and forward Richard Ross made all seven of his shots as Old Dominion crushed Mount St. Mary’s 69-35 Monday night at the Constant Center.
The victory was the eighth straight for Old Dominion (11-1) and left the Monarchs with an 8-0 record at home after their nonconference finale. The Monarchs will begin Conference USA play with three straight road games starting with Sunday’s trip to Charlotte.
“We know it’s going to be tough, but it’s also a great opportunity,” Monarchs coach Jeff Jones said. “As for tonight, this was a great way to wrap up our nonconference schedule. We asked the guys to be ready, and they responded exactly the way we hoped they would.”
This one was never in doubt as the Monarchs ran their offense with little resistance and capitalized on some ice-cold Mountaineers shooting to pull away quickly. Old Dominion led by 23 at halftime, then doused any Mountaineer comeback hopes with a 10-2 run to open the second half that made it 52-21 with 15:32 remaining. The lead would balloon to as many as 39 points as Mount St. Mary’s connected on just one of its first 20 second-half shots.
The victory was so comprehensive it left Christian comparing the Monarchs favorably to Arizona and Notre Dame, the two major conference opponents his Mountaineers have faced this season.
“They’re not quite as good as Arizona; Arizona’s one of the elite teams,” Christian said. “But they’re built like Arizona — big and strong inside, smart, strong guards and wings that can shoot, but also know when to shoot.”
On this night, one of those wings was Douglas, a 6-foot-7 junior college transfer who got the start when Jordan Baker was scratched with a hip injury. A taller, longer alternative to Baker, Douglas made hay around the basket and on the offensive boards in his first extended action as a Monarch.
“He’s a tough matchup for a lot of the opposing ‘three’ men,” Jones said. “He adds a dimension we’re going to need.”
Forward Andrew Smeathers scored 12 points to lead the Mountaineers (4-7), who made just of 11 of 50 field goals. Mount St. Mary’s shot 14.8 percent (4 of 27) in the second half.
Old Dominion got the jump on the Mountaineers quickly, as forward Richard Ross scored eight points during a game-opening 19-5 Monarchs spurt. It didn’t help that Mount St. Mary’s was ice-cold from deep during the run. After Smeathers gave his team a 3-2 lead with a 3-pointer, the Mountaineers made just one of the next 12 they squeezed off in the first half.
The Monarchs led by as many as 25 before heading into the locker room ahead 42-19. Ross finished the half with 10 points for Old Dominion, which shot 54.8 percent from the field and were plus-nine on the boards in the opening 20 minutes.
Smeathers’ eight points paced the Mountaineers, who made just 7 of 23 first-half field goals.
But while the Mountaineers’ shooting woes actually increased after the break, Christian had no issues with his team’s effort.
“Don’t get me wrong, we wanted to win,” the coach said. “But we also want to keep things in perspectivve. We played really hard. If we take that effort into (Northeast) Conference play, we still have a chance to have a pretty special season.”
NOTES: Baker Douglas sat out the Monarchs’ first seven games after being suspended indefinitely following an altercation near campus last summer. He came into the game having logged just 19 minutes over three games. … Mount St. Mary’s previous three games were decided by either one point or in overtime — a 69-68 victory over Binghamton, a 46-45 loss at American and a 67-64 overtime win over Norfolk State. In that game, Mountaineers forward Kristijan Krajina blocked the potential game-tying 3-pointer as OT expired.
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