N. CHARLESTON, S.C. – Junior guard Austin Vereen scored 22 points and freshman guard Bubba Parham added 21 points to lead VMI to a 76-68 win over Charleston Southern in college basketball non-conference action Tuesday night.
Vereen scored 19 points after intermission and Parham added 17 after the break to help key VMI’s third straight win over the Bucs and first in North Charleston since the 2008-2009 season.
Trailing 53-51, Vereen put the Keydets on top for good by nailing three consecutive treys followed by a Parham 3-pointer at the 5:38 mark to push VMI ahead 60-53. A baseline jumper by sophomore guard Garrett Gilkeson capped a 15-2 run over a 3:07 stretch that helped VMI hold off a CSU rally and post its first road win of the season.
The Keydets, who had shot just 6 of 40 from 3-point range over the two previous games, connected on 12 of 28 beyond the arc for 42.9% including 8 of 14 in the second half.
Charleston Southern committed 19 turnovers on the game which VMI converted into 22 points.
VMI evened its mark to 3-3 while Charleston Southern had its four-game win streak, longest since February 2015, snapped and fell to 4-3.
In a game that saw five ties and seven lead changes, the Keydets started quickly, then had to withstand a scoring drought that extended to early in the second half.
Vereen’s first 3-pointer of the night capped a 9-0 run and gave VMI a 17-8 lead with 12:21 remaining in the first half. The Keydets later matched their largest lead of the first half when freshman forward Sarju Patel canned a baseline trey from the right wing to keep VMI ahead, 28-19 with 8:42 left.
CSU countered with a 12-2 run to close out the half capitalizing on six VMI turnovers and the Keydets hitting just one of their last seven shot attempts of the half.
The Keydets went scoreless over the last 5:40 of the first half and trailed 31-30 at the break. The cool shooting carried over after intermission as the Keydets didn’t tally again until the 17:35 mark of the second half when sophomore center Tyler Creammer converted one of two free throws to pull VMI within 36-31.
Parham followed with a 3-pointer to cap a 7-0 spurt and push VMI ahead briefly 37-36 but CSU quickly regained the lead and held as much as a five-point cushion before Vereen started his 3-point barrage.
Senior forward Fred Iruafemi nailed a jumper to give VMI a 10-point lead, 66-56, with 2:09 left but the Bucs rallied within five points on a pair of free throws by Christian Keeling at the :51 mark, 69-64. That would be as close as the hosts would get as VMI converted six of 10 free throws including four straight by Vereen to seal the win.
Keeling, who scored 17 points in last year’s game against the Keydets at Cameron Hall, led all scorers with 23 points.
VMI, which is 2-0 against its former Big South Conference foes this season, faces another such opponent Saturday when state rival Radford visits Cameron Hall. Tipoff is 1 pm.
VMI Head Coach Dan Earl -
“It was a hard fought win and I thought our guys competed throughout. It's what we have to do to give ourselves a chance. In the beginning of the second half, we hit a little lull where we weren’t in our stance enough, we were allowing them to grab some offensive rebounds. Besides that stretch, I thought we were dialed in and got a lot of contributions from a lot of different people. Obviously, Bubba Parham and Austin Vereen got hot and made some shots and that always helps things. But the team effort, collectively, I thought was awesome.”