Old Dominion's fast start key in win over Presbyterian

The SportsXchange

NORFOLK, Va. -- The Old Dominion Monarchs pride themselves on being a team that starts quickly.

That was a major factor Thursday night at the Constant Center as sophomore guard Keenan Palmore scored a career-high 24 points and Old Dominion rolled past the Presbyterian Blue Hose 69-51.

The Monarchs (3-1) scored the game's first 11 points, led by 23 at halftime and stayed ahead by at least 18 the rest of the way in cruising to their third straight victory.

"That's something that's been fairly consistent for us, getting out of the gates quickly," Monarchs coach Jeff Jones said. "And it's not just because we're making shots. We got good shots because our defense was aggressive and good, and we were able to convert in transition.

Presbyterian, meanwhile, missed its first seven shots and didn't score a point until guard Jordan Downing nailed a jumper with 14:48 to go before the break.

Blue Hose coach Gregg Nibert said Old Dominion was the biggest reason for his team's struggles. But he also said it didn't help that, because of conflicts with various players' class schedules, his team was unable to practice Wednesday before making the trip to Norfolk.

"I don't want to make excuses, but this team needs practice," Nibert said of a group that includes just three players with more than one year in the program.

Nibert also blamed himself for beginning the game in a zone defense that Old Dominion had little trouble picking apart.

"I was afraid we couldn't match up, so we started out in a zone and they ate that zone up," Minter said.

Palmore, a sophomore whose previous career high was 17 points, scored 14 in the first half to help the Monarchs break away. Forward Richard Ross added 14 points, guard Aaron Bacote added 13 and guard Dimitri Batten chipped in 11 for Old Dominion.

Downing, who came in averaging 19.3 points, scored 18 points to lead the Blue Hose (1-4), who were just 8 of 24 in the first half.

Palmore, Bacote and Batten each hit a 3-pointer as the fast-starting Monarchs built leads of 17-2 and 25-4 and finished the half shooting 55.6 percent from the field.

"It's a mindset," Palmore said of the fast start. "Sometimes you're thinking about other stuff, but you've just got to be focused like we were tonight. We came out ready, came out to jump on them."

The Blue Hose settled in after the first 10 minutes, making 7 of their final 12 shots in the first half, shooting 50 percent from the field in the second half and holding Old Dominion to 33 percent shooting after the break. But it was too little, too late as the damage was done.

Guard Reggie Dillard scored 13 points and forward Danny Herrera added 10 as the Blue Hose remained winless in four games this season against Division I opponents.

NOTES: Presbyterian's lone victory was Monday's 86-76 decision over Division III Toccoa Falls. ... Old Dominion, on a three-game winning streak, did not win back-to-back games in 2012-13. It finished the season 5-25. ... The Monarchs, who came in averaging just over 11 turnovers through three games, gave the ball away just twice in the first half and finished the game with only five turnovers.
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