LEXINGTON, Va. - Junior guard Austin Vereen poured in a career-high 22 points while sophomore Tyler Creammer fell just one rebound shy of a double-double, propelling the VMI Keydets to a 78-58 win over the Presbyterian College Blue Hose in non-conference basketball action Saturday afternoon in Lexington, Va.
Saturday's contest marked VMI's (1-2) home opener, and the Keydets never trailed. After the Keydets sprinted out to an 8-0 lead, PC (1-3) used a 10-2 run to tie the game, but Vereen answered with 10 straight points and the Blue Hose got no closer than six the rest of the way.
Vereen, who came in 0 for 9 from the field in two games this season, was 7 of 9 from the floor Saturday and led all scorers with his 22 points. He also equaled a career-high with six rebounds. Creammer bumped his career-high upwards for the third straight game, adding 19 and nine boards, one rebound shy of his first career double-double, while Will Miller chipped in a career-high 12 markers.
Presbyterian was led by Montenia Nelson's 13 points.
After Vereen had given the Keydets a 10-point lead, 20-10, with his 10-0 individual run, PC battled back and cut the margin to six on two occasions late in the first half. VMI closed the period on a 12-4 run, however, and led by 14 at the break.
The visitors used a 14-3 run early in the second half and clawed back within seven, 48-41, with 14:52 remaining, but VMI scored 20 of the game's next 28 points and was not threatened the rest of the way.
The victory marked the third straight year that the Keydets had won their home opener, and in doing so Saturday, they handed out 20 assists, the most by a VMI team since Feb. 27, 2016 (The Citadel).
For the game, VMI shot 52.8% from the floor (28 of 53) and was 9 of 22 from three-point range (40.9%). The Keydets also went 13 of 15 (86.7%) from the charity stripe.
Presbyterian was 23 of 57 (40.4%) and made 6 of 19 (31.6%) three-pointers in the loss.
VMI basketball will return to action Tuesday, when the Keydets play host to Ohio Valley University at Cameron Hall. Tip time is set for 7 p.m.
QUOTES - VMI Head Coach Dan Earl
"It was a great way to start the home schedule. I'm really proud of our guys. Presbyterian is a good ball club with some veteran guys coming back and they played NC State really solid and we had to be ready to go from the jump. It doesn't hurt to make a couple of shots in the beginning and we had an 8-0 start. I couldn't be more proud of our guys defensive effort . We really looked like a team communicating in our stance and one that understood the game plan."
"Austin Vereen had his Ring Figure (VMI class ring ceremony) last night and we were teasing him after the game that he needs to pretend it's Ring Figure every night."
"Tyler Creammer was very good around the basket and it was truly a team effort. We did cut our turnovers down. We still had 16 which for a coach is too high, but to go from 24 (Duquesne game turnovers) to 16 today - I thought we did a better job of taking care of the ball."