ATLANTA — After trailing throughout most of the first half and down 42-35 at the break, the Old Dominion women's basketball turned up its defensive effort in the second half as the Monarchs earned a 73-70 win at Georgia State on Saturday afternoon.
The win marked the 50th for head coach DeLisha Milton-Jones in her time at ODU.
"I knew that this was a game that could be ours if we just settled into it," said Milton-Jones. "They hit some crazy shots with the shot clock going down, and I knew that if we could just solidify our defense and give them one opportunity that we could chip our way back into this game."
Four Monarchs finished in double figures, led by a career high 18 points from Brianna Jackson. Makayla Dickens made 4-of-7 shots from distance to end up with 14 points, Amari Young tallied 13 points with a team-high eight rebounds, and Jatyjia Jones went 4-for-5 from the field and a perfect 3-for-3 from beyond the arc to contribute 11 points.
"It feels good," added Jackson when asked about the win. "It feels like we came together as a team. On the defensive end, we locked things down mainly in the paint and trying to stop them from going inside.
We had a talk at halftime about penetration and knowing our personnel. One girl wants to go right, and one girl wants to go left, get in the gaps and help each other. We've always had this principle of man and a half."
The Panthers (8-13, 2-6 Sun Belt) retook the lead midway through the fourth quarter, 65-64 thanks to four straight free throws from Mikyla Tolivert. A long ball by Dickens opened an 8-0 response as the Monarchs (13-8, 5-3) went up 72-65 with 2:43 left in the game.
The hosts got to the line several times down the stretch and were able to close the gap, 72-70 with 33 seconds to go. After Young converted 1-of-2 shots at the charity stripe, GSU attempted to pull even with a three-point attempt from the right side, but Jada Duckett secured the miss and held on as time expired.
GSU scored six straight points to start the game, but Jackson scored nine of her 18 points in the opening quarter. Despite her effort, ODU was still down 22-18 after the first 10 minutes of action. In the second quarter, a three ball by Dickens gave the Monarchs their first lead, 27-26 at the 6:48 mark.
From there, GSU scored nine unanswered to wrestle back control, 35-27 with 3:42 to play in the first half. A pair of makes from Duckett highlighted a 6-0 run by ODU that made it a two-point deficit at 35-33. Later, GSU's Nyla Jean hit a half-court shot to beat the buzzer and the Panthers went into the break with a 42-35 advantage.
The Monarchs turned up the pressure in the third quarter, forcing the home team into four turnovers. After trailing by nine (51-42) with 6:35 on the clock, three-pointers from Jones and Dickens capped off a 13-0 run that put ODU ahead, 55-51. Both sides traded points from there, and the Monarchs went into the final stanza with a 62-59 lead.
"The iron was very kind to them in the first half," added Milton-Jones. "The second half we had a discussion about our zone defense. I think Jordan McClaughlin and Kaye Clark did an extremely good job of making sure that they were aggressive in their switches and getting over on screens. That allowed for us to have limited rotations within our zone."
As a team, ODU shot 27-for-60 (.450) from the floor, including 8-for-18 (.444) from deep, and 11-for-20 (.550) at the free-throw line. ODU beat GSU on the glass with 34 rebounds to the Panthers' 30.
The Monarchs also scored more points off turnovers (27-13), more points in the paint (32-20), more second-chance points (14-10), more fast-break points (6-4) and more points off the bench (34-7).
ODU has a pair of home games next week as the Monarchs welcome Texas State and Coastal Carolina to Chartway Arena. Thursday's game against the Bobcats is scheduled for a 6:30 p.m. start and Saturday's meeting with the Chanticleers will tip off at 2 p.m.