GREENVILLE, N.C. -- Keenan Palmore scored 23 points on 11-of-13 shooting to lead Old Dominion to a grueling 81-70 win over East Carolina in its Conference USA debut Saturday night.
In a tight game that included four first half lead changes, Old Dominion (7-9, 1-0) broke free midway through the second half when Aaron Bacote pumped in eight unanswered points to fuel a 12-2 run for a 63-52 lead that the Monarchs protected to the buzzer.
Bacote contributed 18 points overall and Dimitri Batten added 12 for ODU, which shot 56 percent from field.
East Carolina (11-5, 0-1) kept the game close but hit just 22 of 55 from the field and couldn't stop the Monarchs in the second half.
Paris Roberts-Campbell led four Pirates in double-figures with 21 points and seven rebounds.
ODU is playing its first season in C-USA after leaving the Colonial Athletic Association.