CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Old Dominion finds itself near the top of the Conference USA standings for many reasons, but its physicality in the paint is chief among them.  Charlotte knew it would need to match that physicality to claim victory against the visiting Monarchs.

Instead, ODU recorded a 38-14 advantage in the paint and 26-3 margin on second-chance points, cruising to an 88-66 victory Saturday night before an announced crowd of 4,592 at Halton Arena.

“This is the first night I would say we’ve probably been manhandled,” said interim Charlotte coach Houston Fancher after the game.  “From a rebounding standpoint, we’re one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the league.  This is the first time I felt like we really got physically manhandled.  We answered with fouling, instead of physicality.”

Before that advantage unfolded, Charlotte saw the beginning of a career night from guard Ryan Murphy on its first possession.  The redshirt freshman splashed home a three-pointer, giving the 49ers a lead they would hold for just two minutes and 28 seconds.  Charlotte went into a full-court press on Old Dominion’s inbounds attempt, forcing a steal.  They were unable to convert a basket on that possession, though, and the Monarchs then went on a 10-0 run.

Charlotte (5-14, 1-7 Conference USA) pulled within a point, but a 22-5 ODU run allowed the visitors to double up the 49ers at 36-18.  The home side then went on a run of its own, closing the half on a 16-4 burst that sliced the interval margin to six.  The 49ers considerably outshot the Monarchs in the opening twenty minutes, draining 13-of-23 tries (56.5 percent) to ODU’s 43.3 percent (13-for-30).  ODU’s 20-10 rebounding advantage at the break – along with the three fouls apiece for each of the 49ers’ three major post players — foretold the fate that awaited Charlotte, however.

Old Dominion (16-4, 7-1) charged out of the gate to start the second half, converting the first two buckets of the stanza to extend its lead to double digits.  A Murphy triple followed, but ODU quickly countered with a 7-0 stretch that pushed the lead back to 15 and largely served to put the game out of reach.  The margin remained in double figures for the rest of the contest, with much of the half seeing the visitors’ lead at or near 20 points.

The career night for Murphy couldn’t have come at a better time for the California native, or for his team.  Subbing for guard Andrien White, who missed his third straight game with an injured thumb, the redshirt freshman poured in 27 points, dropping 9-of-11 attempts from the field and all six of his tries from distance.  “The first one felt good, and the second one felt good, so I just kept it going,” said Murphy after the game.  “They were feeling good coming out of my hand.  (I was) taking shots within the offense, running our plays.  I was just getting open looks.”

Murphy and his coach both agreed that the extra time he has invested in his game was beginning to pay off.

“I’ve been in the gym a lot more recently working on my shot,” said Murphy.  “I haven’t been shooting the ball as well as I (was) at the beginning of the year, so I’ve been in the gym with a lot of managers and coaches there, after practice and at night.”

“Nobody works harder than Ryan does,” added Fancher.  “He really works hard at his game, and tonight was a reflection of that.”

Guard Jon Davis set up many of Murphy’s shots, pacing the 49ers with nine assists.  Davis also added 14 points of his own, finishing as the only other Charlotte player in double figures.  Charlotte connected on 55 percent of its field goal tries (22-for-40).

Old Dominion won its 11th game in 12 tries, getting 24 points from guard Randy Haynes on 9-of-18 shooting.  Forward Trey Porter scored 21, with guard Ahmad Caver contributing 17.  Forward Brandan Stith recorded a double-double, pouring in 11 points and snatching 17 boards.  Stith fell just two rebounds shy of the 49ers’ team total on the glass.

Both teams return to conference play Thursday.  Charlotte will host UAB, attempting to halt a six-game skid.  Old Dominion returns home to Norfolk (Va.)’s Ted Constant Convocation Center to host Middle Tennessee in a battle of two of the top teams in the league.  Both games are slated to begin at 7:00 (Eastern).  The contest between the Monarchs and Blue Raiders will air on Stadium.


OLD DOMINION (16-4, 7-1 C-USA): Porter 6-9 9-11 21, B. Stith 4-8 3-4 11, B.J. Stith 3-11 0-0 7, Caver 6-8 2-3 17, Haynes 9-18 2-2 24, Godwin 0-1 0-0 0, Green 1-3 1-3 3, Hueitt Jr. 0-0 0-0 0, Carver 1-2 0-0 2, Pilavios 1-1 0-0 3, Pinckney 0-1 0-0 0, Vassor 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 31-62 17-23 88.

CHARLOTTE (5-14, 1-7): Supica 1-2 2-2 4, Haslem 0-1 0-0 0, Davis 4-9 4-4 14, Ajukwa 3-7 1-2 8, Murphy 9-11 3-3 27, Garvin 2-4 2-4 6, Blight 0-0 0-0 0, McGill 0-1 0-0 0, Thomas 3-4 0-2 6, Vasic 0-1 1-2 1. Totals 22-40 13-19 66.

Halftime — ODU 40-34. 3-Point Goals—ODU 9-20 (B.J. Stith 1-4, Caver 3-4, Haynes 4-10, Godwin 0-1, Pilavios 1-1), Charlotte 9-17 (Davis 2-6, Ajukwa 1-4, Murphy 6-6, Vasic 0-1). Fouled Out — Garvin (CHA). Rebounds — ODU 38 (Stith 17), Charlotte 19 (Supica 4). Assists — Charlotte 13 (Davis 9), ODU 11 (B. Stith/Caver 3). Total Fouls —ODU 18, Charlotte 18. Technical — NA. A — 4592.

Points in the Paint —ODU 38, Charlotte 14. Points off Turnovers —ODU 22, Charlotte 10. Second-Chance Points — ODU 26, Charlotte 3. Fast Break Points —ODU 6, Charlotte 0. Bench Points — Charlotte 13, ODU 8.