NORFOLK, Va. (AP) -- For a change, Old Dominion wasn't such a gracious host.
Shahida Williams scored 20 points on 10-for-11 shooting Sunday night and the Lady Monarchs ended their six-game losing streak in the NCAA tournament with a 82-62 victory against Liberty in the first round of the Greensboro regional.The fifth-seeded Lady Monarchs (30-4), winners of an NCAA-record 17 consecutive Colonial Athletic Association titles, had lost five first-round games in a row, two in their own Constant Convocation Center under their three national champion banners."It was always kind of the monkey on our backs," said Megan Pym, one of three seniors for whom the game was their last chance to join ODU's rich NCAA legacy.And now, coach Wendy Larry hopes, her team can relax when it plays again.The opening game of a tournament, she said, is "always the toughest, no matter what tournament you play, because you're so anxious to get out there and do your best."The Lady Monarchs, with their highest seeding since 2000, did just that.Williams dominated inside and Jazzmin Walters hit three long 3-pointers, the last to spark a 15-0 first-half run that the undermanned Lady Flames couldn't answer, especially not with a less-than-full but loud crowd spurring on the Lady Monarchs.Old Dominion seemed at ease throughout, and it showed. The Lady Monarchs had 31 baskets and 25 assists, outrebounded the Lady Flames 45-34 and forced 17 turnovers."We really are at our best when we can get out on the open floor and run and share the ball," Larry said. "That's about as good as it gets, really."Unless you are the coach standing in front of the opposing bench."I think their running game is a major part of their success, and their running game generally comes off turnovers," Liberty coach Carey Green said. "I'm not saying they're faster than you and you can't get back. I'm saying you're turning it over and the numbers are in their favor."Walters finished with 12 points and nine assists for the Lady Monarchs, and Jessica Canady scored 14, all in the second half. Pym had seven blocked shots and was credited with doing a solid defensive job on Big South player of the year Megan Frazee."We wanted to get her out of her flow," said Pym, who also had 10 rebounds, six points and four assists. "She still had 19 points and eight rebounds."But Frazee missed 12 of 18 shots, and described ODU's defense as "stifling."Rachel McLeod added 11 points and Molly Frazee 10 for Liberty (28-4).Old Dominion, on a five-game winning streak, will face fourth-seeded Virginia in the second round Tuesday night.Liberty, in the tournament for the 11th time in 12 years, came in having won only two tournament games, both in 2005 when it reached the regional semifinals.But the Lady Flames lost Rebecca Lightfoot and second-leading scorer Moriah Frazee to season-ending right knee injuries in recent weeks, and their seven regulars were no match for the waves of fresh bodies Old Dominion's coaches kept sending into the game.Liberty led early, 19-14, before Walters hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key. A 15-footer by Williams and a 3-pointer by T.J. Jordan followed, and the Lady Flames 0-for-5 shooting drought and two turnovers only fueled the home team surge.The Monarchs led 29-19 before Liberty scored again, and it was 44-30 at the half. The Lady Flames closed to within 12 twice in the second half, but got no closer.