COLUMBUS, Ohio – In his first trip back to Pam Evans Smith Arena where he was an assistant coach for five years, ODU head coach Artie Taylor and the Panthers couldn't shake off the cobwebs of a 17 day layoff as they dropped their opening round match-up with Marian College (Ind.) at the Charles B. Zimmerman Memorial Classic hosted by Wittenberg University. The Panthers whose last game was on December 12th couldn't find their legs as they fell 64-52 to the Knights in the holiday tournament.
The Panthers felt the affects of the long hiatus early as they quickly fell behind in the early minutes of the first half. ODU battled back in the opening half and cut the lead to three with just over six minutes to play, but thanks to a 10-0 run over the next 2-minutes the Knights extended their lead back to double-digits. Ohio Dominican picked up the defensive pressure just before the break and cut the lead to six heading into the intermission.
In the second half neither team could gain an edge as the Panthers and Knights trade buckets early. Mid-way through the half ODU picked up the pressure and cut the lead to two and looked as though they stole momentum, but another 10-point swing gave the Knights a double figure lead. Marian would hold on as they nipped the Panthers comeback effort to advance to the championship game.
Leading the way for the Panthers was senior Jim McCurdy (Columbus, OH; pictured) who came off the bench to score a team high 11 points. Fellow senior Adriene Rodriguez (Lorian, OH) and sophomore Aaron Gibbs (Oberlin, OH) added 10 points apiece. Gibbs also had a team high nine rebounds in the losing effort.
Marian was led by Jordan Tucker with a game high 15 points and Brandon Malone chipped in with 13 points for the Knights.
The host Tigers used a late 7-0 run to edge Olivet College (Mich.) in the second game of the afternoon and will face Marian in the title game at 7 p.m.
Ohio Dominican will return to action on Wednesday as they face Olivet College (Mich.) in the consolation game of the Charles B. Zimmerman Memorial Tournament at 2:15 p.m. in Springfield, Ohio.