VMI downs CSU, 88-83
LEXINGTON, Va. — Two former Big South Conference rivals met for the first time in four years as Charleston Southern visited VMI in non-conference college basketball action on Tuesday night.
Fellow conference members up until 2013-14, the teams often combined for high-scoring affairs. That was again the case on Tuesday as VMI used a 20-4 run in the second-half and held on for an 88-83 win at Cameron Hall.
The win snapped a six-game losing streak for VMI (2-7) as the Keydets recorded their first Division I win of the season.
Charleston Southern lost its third game in four outings, dropping to 4-5 before heading to Georgia on Saturday.
Sophomore point guard Armel Potter led CSU with 22 points while freshman guard Christian Keeling added 17. Junior guard Cortez Mitchell scored 12 points, 10 coming in the first eight minutes.
Guard Julian Eleby paced VMI with 31 points, scoring 27 in the decisive second half. QJ Peterson added 17 points while Keith Smith and Adrian Rich each added 15.
Both teams shot 50 percent from the floor in the opening half. CSU led for the duration at the half, opening double-digit leads on several occasions. Mitchell hit a pair of 3’s and Potter added another as the Buccaneers led, 11-2, just three minutes into the game.
Keeling scored eight straight points to push the Buccaneers out to a 34-22 lead with 5:40 remaining before the Keydets went on a 9-0 run, to close to within 34-31 with 3:15 left in the half.
CSU made only one of its final five shot attempts and held a 39-38 advantage at the break. Peterson had 15 first-half points for VMI while Mitchell and Keeling each scored 10 in the opening half.
Patrick Wallace and Potter each connected from long range early in the second half to give CSU a 47-43 lead. Later in the half, leading by four, CSU got 3-pointers from Raemond Robinson and Antwan Maxwell to open a 59-50 lead with 11:58 left.
The Buccaneers went nearly three minutes without a point and the Keydets responded with a 10-2 run to cut the CSU lead to 61-60 with 8:28 to play. Keeling stunted the run with two free throws to make it 63-60 with 7:57 remaining but Eleby’s third trey of the game tied the score at 63 with 7:41 left.
VMI’s first lead of the game came on a layup by Rich, making it 65-63, and Eleby’s steal and layup pushed the Keydets to a 67-63 lead with 6:56 remaining, and extended VMI’s run to 20-4 with a corner 3-pointer to give VMI a 70-63 advantage.
Mitchell stopped the bleeding with a pair of free throws to cut the VMI lead to 70-65. Keeling made three of four free throws to make it 72-68 but CSU’s field goal drought reached more than six minutes.
CSU finally snapped the field goal skid with a 3-pointer by Robinson but Eleby answered to take a 77-72 advantage with three minutes left.
Robinson’s third trey of the game closed VMI’s lead to 81-77 with 32 seconds remaining but Smith made a pair of free throws four seconds later for a six-point advantage.
The Buccaneers slipped to 36.4 percent shooting in the second-half but had their best game shooting from the line this season, hitting 20 of 27 shots.
The Keydets converted on 26 of 30 attempts from the free throw line and shot 46 percent from the field for the game.