VMI's D.J. Covington recorded a double-double of 26 points and 12 rebounds, and added six blocked shots, to lead the Keydets over Charleston Southern, 92-84, at Cameron Hall on Saturday afternoon.
QJ Peterson scored 22 points and VMI (14-9, 7-3 BSC) point guard Rodney Glasgow tallied 18 and seven assists as the trio powered the Keydets to a fourth straight victory. CSU (10-13, 4-6 BSC) was led by 17 points and four assists from junior Saah Nimley, who returned from injury after missing two games. The Bucs struggled offensively, though, shooting 34 percent from the field overall while making only 7-of-22 attempts from three-point range.
CSU trailed 14-7 early but rallied to take a 26-22 lead at about the midway point of the first half. The Bucs still led by three moments later, only to see VMI rip off a 20-3 run to take a 14-point lead and control of the game. VMI led 50-38 at halftime and never let its lead fall under eight in the second half.
CSU sophomore Malcolm Bernard recorded his first career double-double with 16 points and a career-best 12 rebounds in a losing effort for the Bucs. Cedrick Bowen made his first start of the season and finished with 13 points, while Arlon Harper and Paul Gombwer each contributed 10. Gombwer also pulled down 11 rebounds – nine on the offensive glass – for his second double-double of the year.
Covington scored six of VMI's first eight points of the contest as the Keydets took an 8-7 advantage in the last regular season meeting between the two programs as Big South Conference mates. Glasgow and Brian Brown added three-pointers to push the VMI lead to 14-7 at the 16:08 mark of the first half.
Trailing 20-15 with 14:21 left in the opening stanza, CSU engineered an 11-2 run to take a 26-22 lead. Layups by Bernard and Will Saunders sandwiched a Sheldon Strickland three from in front of the VMI bench to tie the score at 22 apiece. Nimley hit a free throw, and Bernard buried a triple from the right wing to cap the spurt and put the Bucs up by four.
Two Bernard free throws gave CSU a 28-25 lead with 9:48 left in the opening stanza, but VMI responded with a 20-3 run sparked by Brown. The left-handed shooting Brown accounted for nine straight VMI points with three treys, the last of which gave the Keydets a 34-29 advantage. Covington then took the reins from Brown during the critical stretch, pumping in eight in a row of his own to build the VMI lead to 42-31 on a turn-around jumper in the paint. Glasgow splashed through a three to cap the surge, giving VMI a 45-31 lead with 4:06 remaining in the period.
Peterson, the Big South's leading scorer entering play, scored 17 of his 22 points after halftime to help VMI keep CSU at bay. He opened the second half scoring with a long three-pointer for a 53-38 lead, the Keydets' largest at the time. CSU responded with ten of the next 13 markers to close within 56-48 at the 16:47 mark, as Nimley and Gombwer drilled back-to-back threes from the left wing.
The Bucs were held scoreless for the next 4:31 of the game, however, as the Keydets went on a 9-0 run to take a commanding 17-point advantage. VMI accounted for its largest advantage of the contest with six free throws and a Glasgow fast-break three.
Despite receiving a spark from Nimley, Bernard and Bowen at times in the second half, CSU could never get a sustained run generated. VMI maintained its advantage at the free-throw line, converting 20-of-26 attempts following intermission.
CSU did come within 90-82 with 57 seconds left, as Harper followed a Gombwer layup with a baseline jumper following a steal by Bernard. It was not enough, though, as VMI held on to its share of the Big South North Division lead while CSU dropped its second straight game.
CSU is back on the road Thursday, as it heads to High Point for a 7 p.m. matchup with the Panthers.