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Old Dominion upsets Virginia at Governor's Holiday Hoops Classic

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Sports,College,Kevin Dunleavy

Batten helps Monarchs end nine-game losing streak

Richmond -- After winning at least 22 games in seven of the last eight seasons, graduation has hit Old Dominion hard. Entering Saturday's game against Virginia, the Monarchs had lost nine straight games, their most in a row in 25 years.

But playing in the Governor's Holiday Hoops Classic at Richmond Coliseum was the remedy for downtrodden Old Dominion. With one of the most unlikely of heroes, sophomore Dimitri Batten, coming off the bench to score a career-high 23 points, Old Dominion snapped its uncharacteristic string and ended the eight-game winning streak of Virginia 63-61.

"Under the circumstances, one of the biggest wins I've had here," Old Dominion coach Blaine Taylor said. "You should have seen that locker room."

Trailing by 10 points with 14:31 left, Old Dominion (2-10) appeared on its way to matching its 10-game losing string of 1986-87. But Batten, who had missed all nine of his shots in the previous three games, ignited the comeback with eight of the points in a 10-0 run, six coming off 3-pointers, as Old Dominion quickly tied it.

When the 6-foot-3 guard from Newport News hit back to back 3-pointers minutes later, he gave Old Dominion had the lead for good at 44-38.

But there would be plenty of anxious moments before the Monarchs could celebrate as Virginia (9-3) rallied behind a pair of 3-pointers in the final eight minutes from both 6-8 freshman Evan Nolte (career-high 15 points) and junior Joe Harris (18 points).

In the final 30 seconds, Virginia sliced the lead to one point, but Old Dominion was solid at the free throw line. Freshman guard Aaron Bacote (17 points, six rebounds, five assists) hit all four of his free throw attempts in the final 43 seconds, and junior guard Donte Hill (12 points, seven rebounds) hit three of four in the final 15 seconds.

With three seconds to go, Hill missed a free throw and Virginia had a chance to win, but after Harris crossed the midcourt line and rose for a potential winning 3-pointer, Hill stripped the ball clean, and Old Dominion celebrated a hard-fought, satisfying victory.

kdunleavy@washingtonexaminer.com

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