NORFOLK, Va. (ODUSports.com) - The Old Dominion University women's basketball team played far better and with more gusto than the Monarchs did in their road opener last week and gave first-year coach Delisha Milton-Jones a successful home debut as the ODU head coach.
Ajah Wayne poured in 21 points and pulled down 15 rebounds and ODU's defense throttled William & Mary as the Monarchs rolled past the Tribe, 70-47, Thursday night at Chartway Arena.
The victory, on top of last week's 86-78 men's basketball victory over the Tribe men, gave ODU a two-game sweep of the series with their rivals from Williamsburg. Attendance at both games was limited to 250 fans because of state restrictions in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It was the first home game for Milton-Jones, the two-time Gold Medal Olympian and former WNBA star who came to ODU from Syracuse, where she was the recruiting coordinator. ODU (1-1) opened with a 55-37 loss last week at George Washington and played poorly. Thursday night the Monarchs looked like a different team.
"We did not do a good job at attacking the basket in our first game," Wayne said. "Just putting everything together and getting her first win on our home court, I think that's the best feeling ever."
Milton-Jones said that no one was satisfied with the effort and performance at GW.
"We did not have the showing we expected to have," she said. "Their zone bothered us. They kind of had us playing passive and on our heels.
"So, when we came back, we had to go back to the drawing board and have a nice little come to Jesus conversation with ourselves, and put the mirror in front of us, coaches included. We had to ask ourselves some hard questions.
"We came out of it realizing we can all do more and pay attention to details. We realized that that's not the identify of who we are."
When she was hired, Milton-Jones pledged to work to develop ODU back into a Top 25 program and says that remains her goal.
"We wanted to let people know tonight that we are here and we are serious," she said. "And the brand of basketball they are accustomed to watching will be on full display."
ODU took control early, rolling to a 22-13 lead at the end of the first quarter and expanding it to 15 early in the second quarter. The Tribe briefly rallied to trim the margin to six, 44-38, early in the third quarter but ODU quickly built the lead back to 12 and the Tribe never threatened again.
Milton-Jones said getting her first victory "was definitely a great feeling."
"The girls were so sweet and thoughtful. They had a confetti party with balloons. I'm so glad they did not have water and Gatorade," she added.
"It was a tremendous win or all of us. I don't take this victory on myself."
The Monarchs have three more non-conference home games in December – Sunday against VCU at 2 p.m., Dec. 11 against North Dakota and Dec. 13 against USC Upstate.
They open the Conference USA season New Year's Day at home against Florida International. The Panthers and Monarchs also play on Jan. 2.