LEXINGTON, Va.- Seven different Keydet players had at least 16 points, VMI notched the second-most points in school history and the Keydets routed the Central Penn College Knights 151-92 Monday night at Cameron Hall in Lexington, Va.
The 151-point output was just five points shy of the largest scoring efforts in program history, a pair of 156-point efforts in 2006-07 and 2007-08 respectively. It was the team's largest margin of victory and most points scored overall since Nov. 20, 2008, when the Keydets bested Stevenson by 61 markers.
It was also the first time VMI had seven players in double figure scoring since that contest with Stevenson. On this night, Keith Gabriel paced the output with 27 points, while Stan Okoye had 26 and Ron Burks had a career-high 24 markers, including a career-best five three-pointers.
The home team was helped by 21 three-pointers, the first game VMI had with 20-plus treys since January of 2009, and an effort that tied the 14th-most three-pointers made in NCAA Division I history. Finally, a school-record 85-point second half put the game away, although Central Penn held just two leads all night, 2-0 and 2-1. With the win, VMI moves to 6-1 on the year and Central Penn falls to 5-4.
VMI started the game on a 27-3 run, as the Keydets scored 27 of the next 28 points after Central Penn's early 2-0 lead. Gabriel hit a jumper at 18:24 to give VMI its initial lead, 3-2 at the 18:24 mark.
That launched the home team on its best run of the season, the 27-3 spurt that included hitting six of eight from three-point range. By comparison, the Keydets hit just nine three-pointers during this past Saturday's loss to West Virginia.
The run finally ended with a lay-in at the 13:22 mark, ending a nearly five minute drought for Central Penn without a field goal. That basket cut the margin to 27-5, but Stan Okoye drilled a trey on the next VMI possession, pushing the margin back to 25.
The Keydets were able to gradually increase the lead over the next six minutes, bumping the advantage up to a first-half best 36, 56-20, on Drew Absher's first career three-point basket, which came at the 7:44 mark. After Absher's trey, the Keydets' hot shooting finally went cold.
Central Penn used that time to start a 23-10 run to close the half, as VMI made just two field goals over the final 7:44. The Keydets, however, still went to the locker room with a 66-43 advantage. The home team had four players in double figures in the first half, including Gabriel with a game-high 18 and Sparks with his second-best total of the season, 11.
The visitors came out quickly in the second half, scoring the first four markers to cut the VMI lead under 20 for the first time since the 14:52 mark of the opening half. The Keydets responded with a vengeance, going on a 22-7 run to put the margin back to 34, a spurt punctuated by a Gabriel steal and running one-hand dunk in the lane. That push gave the Keydets an 88-54 lead with 15:30 to go, but the scoring was far from over.
VMI pushed the margin to 40 for the first time four minutes later, and an 18-6 run made it a 50-point game, 116-66 with 10:09 to go. Finally, with 4:21 left, Gabriel punctuated the effort with a fast-break dunk, giving the Keydets a 60-point lead, their largest of the night at 140-80. Central Penn hit multiple three-pointers in the final four minutes, but the final margin remained at 59, 151-92.
The massive scoring output fell just three points short of the NCAA's all-time top-25 scoring outputs coming into the season, as the cutoff to make that list is 154 points.
Three Keydets had double-doubles Monday evening, including Stan Okoye's fourth double-double of the young season. Rodney Glasgow had 16 points and 11 assists, while Nick Gore dropped in 18 markers and grabbed 12 caroms. It was the first career double-double for both players, as well as career-highs in assists for Glasgow and rebounds for Gore. Drew Absher (18) and Michael Sparks (16) were also in double figures, as Absher notched his first career double-figure output.
VMI returns to action on Thursday, as the Keydets play host to the Winthrop Eagles in the Big South opener for both schools. Game time at Cameron Hall is set for 7 p.m.
Quotes - VMI Head Coach Duggar Baucom
"We needed to shoot better. That was our whole point of emphasis in the shoot around today."
"I was proud of Rodney Glasgow today. He went out there, led us and did a good job taking care of the ball. He did a good job of leading us, and we shot from a high percentage from three. At half time they had matched us on the boards, and I thought the second half we played much better."
"I'd like to applaud Drew Absher. He played really well and made the most of his minutes. He plays so hard in practice, doesn't play much in the game and never says a word and plays 16 minutes and scores 18 points."
"Ron Burks really shot well from three. We told him that had to get better and it did. We try to give a lot of freedom in the way we play. We don't want our shooters to look over their shoulders when they shoot, but looking back at West Virginia we took a lot of bad shots. Ron took that challenge and shot the ball better, Keith Gabriel shot O.K., and Michael Sparks also shot better."