PARADISE ISLAND, THE BAHAMAS (November 25, 2016) – Ahmad Caver made sure the Old Dominion Monarchs left Atlantis with at least one victory. Caver scored seven of his 15 points in the final two minutes of the game, enabling ODU to hang on for a 63-55 victory after St. John’s nearly came all the way back from 16-point second-half deficit.
ODU (3-2) led 51-35 with eight minutes left before St. John’s (2-4) went on a 17-4 run to close the gap to three points at 55-52. But Caver made 5-of-6 free throws and a layup in the closing minutes to seal the victory
It was a satisfying win for the Monarchs (3-2), who were frustrated after blowing second-half leads in each of their first two losses in the tournament. “We had a chip on our shoulder the whole day,” Caver said. “The energy was better. I feel like everyone was tuned in. The whole day felt better, the game felt better.”
The Monarchs outrebounded St. John’s 54-34, including 26 on the offensive end. ODU forward Denzell Taylor grabbed 16 rebounds, the third-most in tournament history. “He got us a bunch of extra possessions just by working his tail off under the boards,” ODU coach Jeff Jones said.
The extra possessions offset another dismal shooting night for the Monarchs, who sank only 30.6 percent of their shots from the field (20-for-66). “I am under no illusion that we are a good shooting team. We’re just not,” Jones said. “If we can ever shoot 40 percent and rebound like we do and defend like we do, we have a chance to win some games.”
St. John’s guard Marcus LoVett scored a game-high 16 points on 7-for-14 shooting. LoVett did not get much support, however, as the rest of the team went 11-for-39 from the field and 3-for-19 from 3-point range.
“We took a step back from yesterday in a lot of areas,” St. John’s coach Chris Mullin said. “To develop a team – you can call it chemistry or trust. It takes going through this stuff and flushing it out and working through it. No one likes to lose. But when you look back, that is what usually turns a team into a team.”