The Perfect Enemy | ODU returns to the site of a difficult, unusual home loss to face … - The Virginian-Pilot
February 2, 2023

ODU returns to the site of a difficult, unusual home loss to face … – The Virginian-Pilot

ODU returns to the site of a difficult, unusual home loss to face …  The Virginian-Pilot

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NORFOLK — Old Dominion’s most recent defensive play at Chartway Arena went about as poorly as one can go.

But a key figure in that play has it on pretty good authority that it wasn’t as bad as it seemed.

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With 1.2 seconds left and the Monarchs leading by two last Thursday, officials whistled ODU’s Tyreek Scott-Grayson for a foul on Coastal Carolina’s Linton Brown as he attempted a 3-pointer. Brown went to the free-throw line and made all three shots to finish off a bizarre 67-66 Chanticleers win.

Replays showed that Scott-Grayson’s hands did not graze those of Brown, who appeared to extend his legs while shooting to initiate contact.

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Scott-Grayson, whose desperation half-court shot bounded off the rim at the horn, said he got assurance from Brown that he’d done nothing wrong.

“I thought I let him land,” Scott-Grayson said. “I don’t know where I fouled him at still. I talked to him after the game, and he said I didn’t foul him. He was looking for a call. He got the call.”

As the Monarchs (10-8, 2-4 Sun Belt) welcome Georgia State to Chartway for another league game Thursday night, they’ve learned the hard lesson that they can’t leave results up to the officials.

ODU has since fallen 73-65 at Marshall to lose two straight for the first time this season. The Panthers (9-9, 2-4), who have knocked off Rhode Island and South Alabama and beat Coastal by 44 on Saturday, will look to extend the Monarchs’ skid.

“ ‘They’re dangerous’ is the way I would describe them,” Monarchs coach Jeff Jones said. “Their record isn’t glowing, but they’ve had some real good wins and certainly are capable, if we come in here and aren’t ready to play our ‘A’ game. We’ve got to be ready.”

ODU’s loss to the Chanticleers was the first of two strange games in Norfolk in a span of 48 hours. On Saturday, Norfolk State fell 86-84 to Howard after the Spartans were assessed a technical foul for leaving the bench to celebrate a go-ahead layup with — again — 1.2 seconds left.

Scott-Grayson said returning home is an opportunity to clear the palate.

“We’ve got a lot to prove,” he said, “to not only ourselves, but to our fans as well for coming out and supporting us.”

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Georgia State is tied for fourth in the Sun Belt in defense, holding opponents to 64.3 points per game. Sophomore guard Dwon Odom is eighth in the league with 14.6 points per game.

Just behind him is Scott-Grayson, with a team-leading 14.4 points per contest.

After Thursday’s loss, Jones dismissed the late foul as an unnecessary product of his team’s collapse. The Monarchs led by 12 with nine minutes to go and gradually let Coastal back into the game.

Sitting courtside at Chartway before a practice this week, Jones still wasn’t interested in dissecting the decisive play.

“It doesn’t matter,” he said. “It should not have come down to that.”

Scott-Grayson doesn’t want the controversial play to beat his team twice.

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“I don’t want to let it trickle over into other games, thinking about what could’ve been or what should’ve been,” he said. “You’ve got to keep moving forward.”

Monarchs point guard Imo Essien, who hasn’t played since collapsing during a Jan. 7 game at Georgia Southern, is still undergoing tests to determine the cause, Jones said.

Essien, a 19-year-old sophomore from the Dallas area, never lost consciousness. But he said he felt like he was “breathing through a straw” in the moment. His breathing returned to normal after some coughing.

Jones said Essien has heard from people who’ve explained away the incident as being tied to the COVID-19 vaccine, a claim without basis in science.

“He had to deal with that,” Jones said. “It’s frustrating that people want to politicize something, and I do think it’s not a science thing. It is a politics [thing]. Whichever side you’re on, I don’t care. We’re talking about a young man. And it’s more important for them to try to promote a political view than it is to just say, ‘Hey, I hope he’s OK.’ It’s crazy.”

Essien, who has averaged 5.4 points per game while running the offense, has been limited to shooting drills, non-contact work and conditioning since being sidelined. He could be cleared to return as soon as next week, Jones said.

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David Hall, david.hall@pilotonline.com