NORFOLK, Va. — Two games into the season, Old Dominion coach Jeff Jones likes that his team was challenged.
He loved the way the Monarchs responded.
Old Dominion answered a late Richmond surge with a 9-1 run of its own and held off the Spiders 63-57 Tuesday night at the Constant Center.
Guard Trey Freeman scored six of his team-high 13 points over the final 2:34 as the Monarchs, two years removed from a 5-25 season, made their last three field goals and five of six from the line down the stretch to secure their first victory over the Spiders since 2010.
“Going into it, you kind of wonder, are we ready for this kind of game this early?” Jones said. “But we were tested, and we wound up with a very nice win against a quality opponent.”
The Spiders used forward Terry Allen’s 3-pointer to nudge ahead 52-51 — Richmond’s first lead since 2-0. However, a layup by Old Dominion forward Richard Ross, a layup and two free throws by Freeman and a 3-pointer by guard Jordan Baker produced enough separation for Old Dominion (2-0) to hang on.
“I’m proud of our comeback in the second half,” Richmond coach Chris Mooney said. “I just don’t think we played well enough to finish the game.”
Richmond forward T.J. Cline, the son of Old Dominion women’s basketball great Nancy Lieberman, came off the bench to lead all scorers with 15 points. However, Spiders guard Kendall Anthony, a preseason All-Atlantic 10 first team selection who scored 18 points in Richmond’s season opener, scored just eight on 3-of-12 shooting.
Jones said the Monarchs never helped off Anthony and tried to keep a man in his face throughout. Mooney indicated that Anthony is also trying to balance the added responsibilities of being the point guard with his natural scoring instincts.
“Kendall wants to be aggressive, but we’re asking him to run the team, and it’s tough sometimes,” Mooney said. “But he’ll get it. If there’s anyone I’m confident in, it’s Kendall.”
Forward Alonzo Nelson-Ododa added 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Spiders (1-1). Ross and Baker each chipped in 12 points as Old Dominion snapped a three-game losing streak in its series with Richmond.
“This was good for us, because the one thing you want to learn early is how to win,” Ross said.
Old Dominion, which made 60.7 percent of its field goals in the second half Saturday during a season-opening victory over UNC Wilmington, continued shooting lights out in the early going against Richmond. The Monarchs made nine of their first 10 shots, the last a 3-pointer by guard Ambrose Mosley that put Old Dominion ahead 22-13.
Cline scored 10 first-half points to keep the Spiders in it. However, after missing seven consecutive shots, Old Dominion heated up again and took a 32-24 lead into halftime.
Ross and Baker each scored six first-half points to lead the Monarchs, who shot 52 percent before the break.
The Spiders shot 42 percent before halftime and were just 1-for-9 from 3-point range in the opening 20 minutes. They finished 4-for-14 from long distance.
NOTES: Basketball great Nancy Lieberman, who starred at Old Dominion, was among those in attendance Tuesday. Lieberman’s son, Richmond F T.J. Cline, is in his first season for the Spiders after transferring from Niagara. Like his mother, Cline wore No. 10; Lieberman’s number now hangs from the Constant Center rafters. … The Spiders came in having won the last three meetings with Old Dominion, including an 80-53 thumping of the Monarchs two years ago in Norfolk. It was the worst loss Old Dominion suffered in the Constant Center, which opened in 2002. … Richmond’s 64-46 victory over Radford on Friday was the Spiders’ 15th straight in a season opener. That includes a 10-0 mark under coach Chris Mooney.
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