CHARLOTTE AMALIE, Virgin Islands — The LSU basketball team trailed at halftime for the third time in as many games this season in the Tigers’ opening game of the Paradise Jam on Friday.
But unlike their first two games, against Gardner-Webb and Texas Tech, there would be no comeback victory this time.
Even though LSU held a 12-point lead on three different occasions in the first half, Old Dominion would not be denied.
Taking full advantage when big men Jordan Mickey and Jarell Martin went to the bench with two fouls each, Old Dominion came up with a big run to get back into it before halftime and went on to a 70-61 win.
LSU (2-1) will play at 4 p.m. Saturday against Weber State, which fell 73-64 to Illinois State.
Old Dominion (3-0) outscored LSU 24-9 in the final 9:08 of the first half to take a 33-30 lead to the locker room and then came out of the locker room to score the first seven points for a 40-30 lead with 16:29 remaining.
While Mickey and Martin started the second half, much of the damage was already done when they combined to play just 26 first-half minutes.
Mickey went to the bench with LSU in front 28-18 at the 6:45 mark. Martin left less than two minutes later and the Tigers holding a 28-21 lead.
“We didn’t do a great job when our post guys got in foul trouble and went to the bench,” LSU coach Johnny Jones said. “Old Dominion did an excellent job, and we didn’t do a good-enough job executing (on offense) or defending.”
With them sitting, the Tigers offense became stagnant.
After Mickey left, LSU made just 1-of-8 field-goal attempts, was 0-of-3 from the free-throw line and had two turnovers.
The Tigers were a shade under 50 percent (11-of-24) from the field before then but wound up hitting on just 37.5 percent of their shots from the floor.
Its only points in the final 6:58 of the first half came on a basket by backup center Darcy Malone, who was playing for the first time this season.
“When those guys went to the bench, Old Dominion got the momentum,” Jones said. “With Jarell and Mickey both out, our offensive execution isn’t where it needs to be.”
“I think they started 2-of-12 from the field and then started making their shots and went on a run,” LSU guard Keith Hornsby said. “We lost our defensive intensity, and we didn’t really respond well to their runs.”
Even when Mickey and Martin returned for the second half, Old Dominion built on its lead.
Guard Trey Freeman, who poured in a game-high 25 points, sandwiched two field goals around a free throw after forward Richard Ross scored on ODU’s first possession for a 40-30 cushion.
LSU made a couple of runs and tied it twice in the final 5:01, then pulled within 61-60 on a 3-pointer by Tim Quarterman with 3:39 to play. But Old Dominion put it away with a 9-1 run.
“They kept making plays and kept their composure even though we threw a lot of pressure at them,” Hornsby said. “They stayed composed and made shots when it counted. We came out on fire on defense in the second half, but we couldn’t sustain that momentum. They capitalized on it.”
Hornsby, who had 10 first-half points, took three shots in the second half and finished with 15 points.
Martin scored a team-high 17 points to go with 11 rebounds, but Mickey, who was averaging 19.5 points and 10.5 rebounds, was held to five points and six rebounds.
“We started taking fast shots and not being patient enough in our offense,” Martin said of what went wrong in the first half. “We were making one or two passes and putting up jump shots. They played hard, they played consistent and they played to the end.”
Unlike Tuesday night’s game against Texas Tech, when it overcame a 12-point halftime deficit, LSU couldn’t pull it out.
“In the second half, we did a great job of getting back in the game,” Jones said. “But then, we didn’t do the things that got us back in it: driving to the basket and creating foul trouble.
“We have to learn from this and grow from it.”