NORFOLK, Va. — A seven-minute Western Kentucky scoreless streak and 12-0, first-half run by Old Dominion provided ODU all the separation it needed Saturday in a 67-53 win inside the Ted Constant Convocation Center.
Those pivotal minutes allowed the Monarchs (18-10, 11-5 Conference USA) to build a 15-point lead that WKU never came close to cracking. The Hilltoppers (13-16, 7-9 CUSA) lost for the fifth time in seven games.
Pancake Thomas scored 17 for Western while Que Johnson added 12 and Justin Johnson had 11. The Tops shot 30.6 percent from the floor and turned the ball over 12 times.
The Monarchs outscored WKU 28-11 in the paint.
Old Dominion began the game on an 8-2 run, but WKU hung tough thanks to a Thomas 3 from the right wing and a Lomomba layup to cut the score to 10-7. Western had a chance to tie down 16-13, but a Thomas missed 3 led to an Alassane Kah triple on the other end and 19-13 Monarchs lead.
That bucket sparked a 12-0 run that included an Ahmad Caver to Trey Porter alley-oop and Caver 3 out of the right corner that forced a WKU timeout. The Hilltoppers would end up going 7:02 without a single point as they fell behind 28-13.
Much of the excitement the rest of the half surrounded WKU’s Anton Waters and ODU’s Porter and Denzell Taylor. Porter shoved Waters after laying up an alley-oop finish and Waters followed him down the court with some choice words. Taylor came to Porter’s defense, and when the dust settled, all three were assessed technical fouls.
The Monarchs would cruise to a 37-23 lead while shooting 55.2 percent and scoring 18 points inside the paint. Western made just six shots and was out-rebounded by 12.
HALFTIME— Chad Bishop (@MrChadBishop) February 26, 2017
Old Dominion 37
Western Kentucky 23 pic.twitter.com/ervr6YD5va
Western Kentucky clawed its way back to 46-36 on the strength of back-to-back 3s from Que Johnson and Thomas with 14 minutes to play. But the Tops couldn’t crack that 10-point plateau.
B.J. Stith put the game away at the 4:29 mark with an easy jumper to increase the lead to 15.
Caver led the way for ODU with 15 while Brandan Stith added 11 and B.J. Stith finished with 13. The Monarchs had 17 assists on 26 made baskets.
• WKU redshirt-sophomore forward Jabari McGhee (shoulder) played Saturday after missing three straight games.
• WKU freshman guard Damari Parris (broken hand) did not play Saturday.
• Western Kentucky has 12 true road game losses for the first time since the 1999-00 season when the Hilltoppers finished 2-12 on the road. The Hilltoppers have never lost 13 true road games in one season.
• Western now trails the series with ODU 18-16 dating back to 1970. The Monarchs have won five straight.
• The Hilltoppers last won in Norfolk, Va., 1991 and have gone 2-10 in 12 trips to Old Dominion.
• Old Dominion is 45-8 in its last 53 home games.
• The Monarchs are 12-1 this year when allowing less than 60 points.
• In 2016-17, the Hilltoppers are now 4-12 on the road, 1-13 when trailing at halftime, 2-16 when trailing with five minutes to play, 2-11 when getting out-rebounded, 5-13 when the opponent makes more 3s, 5-11 when finishing with fewer bench points and 4-9 on Saturday.
• Western must win four games to avoid its first losing season since 2011-12.
• Hilltopper junior Justin Johnson moved into 40th on the program's all-time scoring list with 1,059 career points.
• WKU senior center Ben Lawson became the second player (Jeremy Evans) in program history to have three seasons with at least 50 blocks.
• Western Kentucky has made at least one 3 in 935 straight games.
• Attendance on Saturday was announced as 7,355.
— Follow WBKO sportswriter Chad Bishop on Twitter @MrChadBishop
FINAL— Chad Bishop (@MrChadBishop) February 26, 2017
Old Dominion 67
Western Kentucky 53
Hilltoppers (13-16, 7-9 CUSA) host North Texas at 7 p.m. Thursday pic.twitter.com/fDq5VHHlQy