NORFOLK, Va. - In the Old Dominion men's basketball team's first time playing in front of a full-capacity crowd since the 2019-20 season, the Monarchs open their season with an 80-60 win over Virginia Wesleyan on Wednesday evening.
The first basket of the season belonged to Charles Smith IV, who opened the game with a three-pointer to give ODU the league. The Marlins answered with a three of their own by Corey Pelham, but after Smith scored a second straight three, the Monarchs regained the lead and never looked back.
Kalu Ezipe led the Monarchs in scoring with 21 points, 12 rebounds and three assists. ODU newcomer C.J. Keyser was second in scoring with 16 points in his debut as a Monarch.
"It was great. I know we were all kind of anticipating and excited to come in and play in front of a crowd," ODU head coach Jeff Jones said. "The crowd was into it. I thought our guys entertained them in a sense that they played really hard."
"It makes you want to play harder, it makes you want to do more, it makes you want to celebrate," Ezikpe said about the return of a full-capacity crowd. "It's definitely a lot more fun, instead of just talking and looking to the crowd, and nobody's there, so it's definitely better."
Next up for the Monarchs is a 4 p.m. game at James Madison on Saturday.