Old Dominion has a storied past that includes three national championships, including an NCAA title in 1985, but is just two years removed from an 8-23 season, has not been competitive in a conference race in nearly a decade and it’s been 12 years since the Monarchs made an NCAA tournament appearance.
The 2019-20 edition of Old Dominion women’s basketball is looking to change that trend and went a long way towards doing so last week with wins over Rice and North Texas that moved the Monarchs atop the Conference USA standings. Old Dominion, 22-3 and 12-1 Conference USA, has now won 11 straight games.
The Feb. 13 win over defending Conference USA champion Rice was especially noteworthy in that it ended the Owls’ 30-game Conference USA winning streak that stretched back to the 2018 season. Playing in their most significant home game in more than a decade, Old Dominion upended Rice 66-59 in a gut-wrenching overtime game as sophomore Ajah Wayne led the Monarchs with 21 points, with five points critical points coming in overtime. Amari Young had 15 points and 11 rebounds and Taylor Edwards had 14 points.
Old Dominion’s defense, which ranks first in Conference USA by allowing only 54.3 points per game, frustrated the Rice offense. The only Owl who scored consistently was Erica Ogwumike, the Conference USA Player of the Year in 2019 who scored 26 points and had 18 rebounds.
Old Dominion avoided a letdown on Saturday, winning its 13th straight game at home in Norfolk, Va., 71-66 over North Texas. Junior Victoria Morris led the way with 17 points, while Wayne collected her fifth double-double this season, notching 13 points and 11 rebounds.
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For head coach Nikki McCray-Penson and the Monarchs, the conference regular-season championship may not be decided until March 7, when Old Dominion finishes the season at Rice, which is currently one-game back of the Monarchs with four games remaining. The Monarchs' scoring margin of +12.8 points per game tops Conference USA and it's 4.5 points better than No. 2 Rice.
Old Dominion next will hit the road to take on Charlotte on Feb. 22 and Marshall on Feb. 24.