The Tribe's Marcus Thornton was as advertised, but a collection of ODU defenders made him work, and the Monarchs' balance and effort on the boards were the difference in a 69-62 win Monday at the Constant Center.
"My biggest disappointment," W&M coach Tony Shaver said, "is we're not tough enough to win these games on the road right now. We knew coming into this game, the No. 1 statistic, the most vital thing we could do was rebound the ball and we gave up 15 offensive rebounds and 20 second-chance points. We've got no chance to win if we do that."
The Monarchs (10-1) won their seventh consecutive game, extending their best start in a decade. Trey Freeman led all scorers with 24 points and imposed his will on the game at critical stretches in both halves.
Ambrose Mosley (17 points) hit three 3-pointers, jump-starting the Monarchs after a balky first few minutes of the second half. He also shook loose from a Tribe defender to get open for a trey as the Monarchs gained separation that they didn't relinquish.
ODU's Denzell Taylor (10 rebounds) had his second consecutive double-figure rebound game and had more offensive rebounds himself (6) than William and Mary (3). The Monarchs had a 41-24 rebound edge, which helped offset poor shooting in the first half. ODU warmed up after that balky second-half start and shot 54 percent (13-for-24) after halftime.
"That rebound margin is something that we talked about coming into the game," ODU coach Jeff Jones said. "The last two games that's played a big role and we thought we should have a big margin, or a big differential tonight, as well."
ODU snapped a three-game losing streak to William and Mary, and continued its success against former Colonial Athletic Association foes. The Monarchs have beaten six current and former CAA teams, including then-No. 14 VCU, a win at George Mason and last week's overtime victory against Sun Belt Conference favorite Georgia State.
The Tribe (6-4) fell to 1-4 in road games. Thornton, the 6-foot-4 senior, led the Tribe with 22 points, but W&M didn't have enough offensive complements, and he was relatively quiet during a key stretch of the second half when ODU took control.
Jones said of Thornton, "in my estimation, the best guy we've played all year."
Daniel Dixon scored 16 points and Omar Prewitt had 15 and was a bit more assertive than in recent games. But versatile wing Terry Tarpey scored just four points before fouling out, and ODU's bench outscored its Tribe counterparts 24-3.
"We relied too much on our guard play," Shaver said. "Not blaming them by any means, but we have to have better balance. WE've got some good offensive players not playing well for us right now and it's really important that we get a better balance in our offensive attack."
Thornton's basket midway through the second half tied the game at 39. From there, ODU went on a 13-1 run as four different players scored. Freeman scored consecutive basket, the second after a steal.
Jonathan Arledge hit a jump shot, and then Freeman fed Mosley for a 3-pointer that pushed the margin to 48-39. Nik Biberaj followed an Arledge miss, and then Arledge hit another jump shot on an assist from Aaron Bacote.
ODU led 61-47 before a late Tribe run narrowed the gap to five points. But W&M got no closer as Shaver fumed about his team's inability to complete defensive sequences.
"We're pretty solid on the possession," Shaver said, referring to initial defense, "but you just can't give up second-chance points. It's deflating. Again, give them credit for their toughness. But we knew coming in that was the most important part of the game, and the first four minutes, they just got stickback after stickback and we've got to get better there. It's toughness, part of it is just toughness. We're not tough enough right now to do it."
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